ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers manager Ron Washington always see the glass half full. When asked if he believes newly acquired right-hander Ryan Dempster shook off two poor starts in three since being traded to the club with Monday night's gem, Washington retorted, "You forgot what he did in Boston."
Forget about his first start against the then-sizzling Angels and also his latest start last week in the Bronx. Washington sure has. He remembers the fight Dempster put up at Fenway and the dominance he showed on an unusually tepid night evening at Rangers Ballpark when he allowed just four hits -- two after the first inning -- and retired the final 11 batters he faced through eight innings.
A three-run third inning gave Dempster a lead he would not let go. Washington said this is the Dempster he expected and expects to see the remainder of the year. The bearded Dempster felt the same after the 5-1 win in his second home start.
"I hope so," Dempster said. "I like to believe so."
The Orioles, battling for one of two AL wild card spots, got their lone run in the first thanks to a fortuitous tip off Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland's glove when he couldn't snare Adam Jones' liner. The ball got far enough away from Moreland that Nate McLouth was able to score from second. McLouth's two-out double kept the inning alive.
After that it was mostly lights out with Dempster in command of his slider and sinker as he kept the pitches over the plate, but down and out of the zone.
"I had a good slider. I haven’t had that a couple times since I’ve been here yet," said Dempster, who improved to 2-1 with the Rangers and dropped his bloated ERA from 8.31 to 6.04. "We worked hard in between starts to get that going and just try to keep the ball in the middle of the plate and (I) was able to do that."
Dempster had a bit of extra time between starts. He was scratched from Saturday's start at Toronto for personal reasons and was bumped back to Monday. He said he threw two bullpen sessions, something he never does, and threw on Saturday as well, specifically to get his sinker working the way it did in the National League where he had a 2.25 ERA with the Cubs. On Monday, he certainly found his command.
"I threw a lot more sliders below the zone than in the middle of the zone," Dempster said.
After the first inning, Dempster allowed more than one base runner once, in the fourth when he gave up a lead-off single to Jones and then issued a two-walk to Mark Reynolds. Then Dempster got Omar Quintanilla to whiff at an 82-mph splitter. Nick Markakis singled with one out in the fifth after Elvis Andrus made a spectacular play deep in the hole to rob Manny Machado of a lead-off single. Markakis was the last Orioles batter to reach base.
Dempster retired the side in order in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, and closer Joe Nathan wrapped up his 25th save in 26 opportunities by striking out the side in the ninth.
"That always feels good," Dempster said. "But ultimately it came down to just making better pitches than I made last time out, and I was able to get better results."