Yesterday we took in the Boston debut of Ryan Dempster. The difference between him and, say, Lester or Buchholz was unfortunately conspicuous. He just doesn’t have the same degree of skill, versatility, and adaptability that they possess. And as a result of that and of a subpar hitting performance (I would say mostly of a subpar hitting performance since we should have been able to score enough runs to cover those that Dempster gave up), we suffered our first loss of the season. Unfortunately, we knew it had to happen sometime. I wish it didn’t happen against the Yanks, least of all in New York, but at least we won the series!
Dempster tossed five innings and gave up three runs on five hits while walking four and striking out eight. We should have been able to figure out that things wouldn’t go exceptionally well for him when he walked his first batter of the year. But two groundouts later, he got out of the inning one-two-three. Dempster opened the second by giving up a single. Following two quick strikeouts on a total of seven pitches, he gave up a double followed by a single that brought in his first run. He then led off the third with a big mistake of an eighty-seven mile-per-hour fastball, which was hit out for a solo shot. Fortunately, that was it. He threw a grand total of 101 pitches and will obviously have to seriously work on his efficiency if he intends to stay on the mound for more than a little over half a game.
His limited arsenal is also a pain point that will probably be more concerning as the season goes on. He threw only four pitches yesterday: both fastballs, a slider, and a splitter. His fastest fastball was ninety-one miles per hour, and while his average slider speed was eighty-four and his average splitter speed was eighty. A variation in pitches but also a wider range between his lowest and highest speeds would really help him confuse the hitters, increase his strikeout count, and decrease his walk count, which should also help with efficiency.
His lowest pitch count per inning was thirteen in the fifth; his highest was twenty-nine in the fourth, and he threw around twenty in each of the rest. His release point was actually really consistent, but I still say that he’s going to have to work on his arsenal, at least refining the pitches he does through, and by extension his efficiency.
Tazawa pitched the sixth, and Mortensen pitched the seventh and eighth, giving up a solo shot of his own to his first batter as well.
As busy as our hitters were during the previous two games, we were silent for way too much of this one. Try the first six innings. Yeah. We didn’t cross the plate until the seventh. It was awful. We didn’t even have that many opportunities. We had two on in the first thanks to two singles by Victorino and Napoli, but Victorino was thrown out at home when he tried to score on a wild pitch. We went down in order in the second despite a single by Middlebrooks thanks to a double play. Basically the same thing happened in the third. Pedroia walked in the fourth on five pitches but it was a brief inning due to quick outs for the other three batters who came up. We went down in order in the fifth. Iglesias led off the sixth with a single but we went down in order after that.
Finally, with two out in the seventh, Middlebrooks singled and scored on a double by Bradley. If only we could have made it into a rally; at the time, that run shrunk the deficit to two, and even though we were in the last third of the game, two runs is by no means an insurmountable lead. But Ross flew out to end it. At first, I thought it might actually be out. But it was just short and hauled in right at the wall. Then, of course, Mortensen gave up the insurance run, we went down in order in the eighth, and all we could muster in the ninth was a run on a groundout. Pedroia had walked on seven pitches to start the frame, and then Napoli flew out, and Gomes doubled, eliminating the double play option with two on. Pedroia came home when Middlebrooks grounded out, and the deficit was back down to two. And then Bradley came to the plate. He could have tied it with a home run. Instead, he was called out on strike three, and we lost, 4-2.
In other news, the B’s narrowly bested the Devils, one-zip.