Dempster done in by lack of command

Dempster done in by lack of command
May 24, 2013, 12:00 am
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(USA Today Sports Images)

BOSTON — Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster left Fenway Park Thursday night wearing a United States Postal Service baseball cap.

But unlike the USPS, Dempster couldn't deliver.

The pitcher went just 3.0 innings for the Sox, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks while striking out four. Dempster threw 85 pitches over those innings, 52 of which were strikes. When the Sox were forced to go to their bullpen, the wheels fell off, and they lost, 12-3.

The high pitch count is a troubling sign for Dempster, as just last game he gave up eight hits and walked six batters in 4.2 innings and 127 pitches, the most pitches since he threw since Sept. 13, 2011 and three off his career-high.

He threw 100 pitches in 5.0 innings against the Blue Jays prior to that start, too. Dempster posted a 2.93 ERA over his first seven starts this season, but has a 10.66 ERA over his last three outings, which gives him a 4.69 ERA on the year.

"Consistent arm strength, we're seeing the same velocity. Obviously it's command," manager John Farrell said of Dempster's issue. "When you look at the number of walks over the past three outings. Today with two very extended innings it was time to honesty get him out of there after the third inning tonight.

"But it's a matter of consistent command. Even in his first seven starts or so, there was no unwillingness on his part to use the entire count and not give in to hitters, but when he's needed to go to a slide or a split for a strike, that's where that command of the second series stuff has been elusive for him."

Farrell said that Dempster's work in-between outings was adjusted due to his high pitch count last game, and that Dempster had no complaints going into Thursday.

It's no secret to Dempster either that he's been his own worst enemy as of late.

"Well my command has been terrible," he said. "I walked 10 guys in the last nine innings. And they're unnecessary walks, so I just have to try to fix that. That's the bottom line. I don't put myself in that kind of trouble in the third inning and throw forty-something pitches if I just throw the ball over the plate."

Jarrod Saltalamacchia isn't too concerned with the latest trend, though. While he does admit some pitches got away from Dempster, he also gives credit to the Indians and their hot bats.

"He's still good," Saltalamacchia said of Dempster. "I think the last start he had a little trouble trying to find the strike zone. Tonight he looked good. Like I said, when a team comes in hot like that all the balls seem to fall their way as far as he's concerned and his pitching. And like I said that last inning I think he threw too many pitches and that pitch count got up."