Dempster looking forward to fresh start with Red Sox

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Dempster looking forward to fresh start with Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ryan Dempster left one last-place team for another this winter, but he's not concerned that the losing he experience in Chicago will continue with the Red Sox.

"I think anything that happened last year, no matter what team you're on, that kind of goes out the door," said Dempster. "You can look at different teams, teams maybe that have won it and don't end up getting back there, or maybe not even make the playoffs. It's amazing how fast things can change.

"And vice versa. OK, (the Red Sox) finished last past year. But things can turn around in a heartbeat. You look at the type of players we brought in, and guys being healthy. We just have to go out there and stay healthy through spring training, then be prepared when the season starts to go out and get after it.

"I think anytime spring training starts, there's always that determination. You have that fresh new outlook on a season. You can put last year behind you, whether it was good or bad. You learn from it and you learn from your successes and your failures and you go out there and try to improve on that."

Dempster has pitched almost exclusively in the National League in his career, but made his A.L. debut last August when he was traded from the Cubs to the Texas Rangers.

"If anybody says, 'Oh, it's no different (in the A.L.) . . .' It is different. You're not facing a pitcher, you're facing a (DH like) David Ortiz or you're facing a Mark Teixeira. You have somebody plugged into that spot who's a bona fide middle-of-the-order hitter. It does change.

"But at the same time, your goal as a pitcher is to go out and execute as many quality pitches as possible. If you throw 100 pitches in a game and you execute 90 of those, you're going to have success. The (fewer) pitches you execute, no matter who you're facing, you're not going to have as much success. I think it comes down to preparing, practicing to do it and then maintaining your focus, never letting up."

Beyond facing a DH instead of a pitcher, Dempster noticed other changes between the leagues.

"I think AL teams make adjustments very fast,'' he said. "They're a lot more patient. But I think that comes from team to team. I faced some really good teams last year, some really good hitting teams. Facing them one through nine, you just have to be prepared. It's about making pitches. Ultimately, if you do that, if you execute your pitches and put them where you want, 7 12 times out of 10, you're going to get the job done."

Dempster has pitched just under 1,000 innings in the last five years, evidence of how durable he's been. He hopes that continues to be the case.

"I like to provide consistency," said Dempster. "I think that's probably something, over the course of my career, that I take the biggest pride in. I try to take the ball every fifth day, as long as I can and go out there and give it my best effort. Be prepared - I think that's really important. That's something that, over the course of my career, from watching guys, is be prepared as you can to go out there and have success."

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

BOSTON - The Red Sox knew they'd be in the playoffs last weekend when they clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2013.

On Wednesday, they became division champs and knew they'd avoided the dreaded wild-card game.

ANALYSIS: Nick Friar looks at potential Red Sox-Indians matchup

They still don't know their first-round opponent, though it's becoming increasingly likely that it will be the Cleveland Indians.

Here's why: the Red Sox' loss to the Yankees on Thursday night leaves them with a 92-67 record with three games remaining, the second-best mark -- for now -- among the three A.L. division winners.

The Texas Rangers, at 94-65, retain the best record, with the Indians, at 91-67, a half-game behind the Sox.

The team with the best record of the three will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, and will be matched against the winner of Tuesday's A.L. wild-card matchup.

To finish with the A.L.'s best record and host the wild-card winner, the Red Sox essentially need to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays on the final weekend and hope that the Rangers get swept by Tampa Bay.

That's because a tie between the Red Sox and Rangers in the standings would make the Rangers the top seed by virtue of the second tie-breaker: intra-division play.

(The first tie-breaker is head-to-head play; the Sox and Rangers split the season series, sending them to the second tie-breaker).

In other words, the Rangers have a magic number of one to clinch the best record in the A.L. and gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason. One more Red Sox loss or one more Rangers win would get the Rangers locked into the top spot.

Again, barring a sweep by the Sox and the Rangers getting swept, a matchup in the Division Series with Cleveland seems almost inevitable.

What's not known is where that series will begin, and here's where it gets tricky.

Because the Indians and Detroit Tigers were rained out Thursday, the Tribe will have played only 161 games by the time the regular season ends early Sunday evening.

That could force the Indians and Tigers to play a makeup game on Monday, since the game could have playoff seeding implications for the Indians and Tigers. Detroit is still in the running for the A.L. wild card spot, currently a game-and-a-half behind the Orioles and Jays.

Since the Red Sox won the season series against the Indians 4-2, the Sox can clinch home field by winning two-of-three games from Toronto this weekend.

Should the Sox win two from the Jays, it would wipe out the need for Monday's makeup -- at least as far as the Indians are concerned. It's possible that it would still need to be played to determine the one of the wild card spots.

No matter who wins home field in a likely Red Sox-Indians matchup, the Division Series between the two will start with games next Thursday and Friday. After a travel day, the series would resume Sunday and Monday, Oct. 9-10.

Should the Sox win home field and host the first two games, Game 3 would be played Sunday Oct. 9 in Cleveland -- on the same day and in the same city where Tom Brady will make his return to the Patriots.