BOSTON – An eight-run lead after two innings -- and 17 runs overall -- can certainly make your night a little easier.
“Anytime you get 17 runs, you can win with that,” Ryan Dempster deadpanned after the Red Sox beat the Rangers, 17-5, Tuesday night in the opener of their three-game series at Fenway Park.
“It was just fun to watch the guys swing the bat as well as they did today," he continued. "Just kind of sit back and try to do my job, throw strikes, make pitches and try to get outs. When you have breathing room like that, it's nice because you kind of put it in the zone a lot and try to get quick outs.”
Dempster improved to 3-6 and lowered his ERA to 4.39. He went seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
“I had good fastball today,” he said. “Fastball and good command. The two pitches [that were hit for home runs] were both hanging sliders. Other than that, I felt like I was able to command it for the most part and get out of here with the win.
“It’s just fun for us as a team to sit there and watch everybody go out there and swing the bat the way they did. That’s a lot of fun.”
A sizable lead like that allows pitchers to try things they might not otherwise.
“It makes it easy in the fact that you can kind of . . . not really invent pitches, but you can throw some pitches you normally wouldn’t throw in certain counts,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “But at the same time you want to take the same approach. One-run ballgame or 15 runs, that’s the same guy out there with his earned-run average and you want to still pitch.”
The runs Dempster allowed came on a two-run homer by Jeff Baker in the fourth inning and Nelson Cruz’ solo shot leading off the sixth
“Dempster went out, continued to throw strikes, forced them to swing the bats,” said manager John Farrell. “Gives up a couple of home runs. But still did a good job of getting through seven innings tonight.”
It was the first time Dempster was facing his former team. He went 7-3 with an ERA of 5.09 in 12 starts for the Rangers last season after being acquired from the Cubs at the trade deadline. He had faced Texas just once before in his 16-season career.
“Anytime you play an old team it’s always fun, exciting,” he said. “A little adrenaline rush to try to do well. They’re a tough at-bat, every one of those guys.”