TORONTO — Ryan Dempster, a native of British Columbia, pitched in Toronto for the first time in his 16-year career. He last pitched in Canada in 2002 when he started the first game of the season for Florida at Montreal.
“I always enjoying pitching back here,” Dempster said after going six strong innings in a 3-1 Red Sox win. “Coming home and pitching in your country is always a fun thing."
Rogers Centre was the 41st major league stadium Dempster has pitched in and he liked it just fine, allowing one run on four hits over six innings to improve to 2-2. He is 6-0 in nine career appearances in Canada.
“I’m looking for more expansion teams in Canada,” Dempster said. “That’s kind of the goal. Maybe Vancouver will get a team.”
Dempster’s night didn’t start well. Toronto’s leadoff hitter, Brett Lawrie, hit a fastball over the fence in left field for his third home run.
With the Red Sox up, 2-1, in the third inning, Dempster walked the bases loaded with one out. That prompted a visit to the mound by pitching coach Juan Nieves.
Dempster fell behind the dangerous Edwin Encarnacion, 2-and-0. The power hitter was impatient and swung at the next pitch, a slider off the outside corner. That produced exactly what Dempster needed, a double play to end the inning.
“He finds a way to navigate through those situations,” John Farrell said.
The Blue Jays didn’t advance another runner into scoring position against Dempster as he retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced including the final seven in a row.