MINNEAPOLIS — Red Sox manager John Farrell does not go to the mound to counsel his pitchers. That is the job of pitching coach Juan Nieves.
When Farrell goes to the mound, it’s to take the pitcher out of the game.
So when Farrell walked out on the field in the fifth inning on Saturday night, Ryan Dempster looked like a goner. The righthander had thrown 122 pitches to that point and was clinging to a 7-4 lead. The Twins had a runner on base and two outs.
But Farrell did not raise his right arm to call in Clayton Mortensen from the bullpen. He let Dempster convince him to stay in the game.
“He kind of talked his way into it,” Farrell said. “In hindsight probably should have [made] the move at the time. But, still, it’s a veteran guy who’s fine physically in terms of his arm. Trying to get him the last out in the fifth to get give him a chance to get a win.”
Dempster got ahead of Jamey Carroll 0-and-2 but could not finish him. Carroll dumped a 2-and-2 pitch into right field and Farrell came to the mound again.
Dempster gave up five runs on eight hits and six walks.
“I wasn’t very good tonight,” he said. “Throwing strikes, that was a big problem. I just didn’t have anything going tonight. But at the end of the day we won the game and that’s all that matters.”
Dempster, 36, threw 127 pitches. That’s the most for a Red Sox pitcher this season and tied for the fourth-most in the majors this season. Dempster had not thrown that many since the 2011 season. Before that you have to go back to 2001.
“You want to give a guy every opportunity to record a win,” Farrell said “It’s a delicate balance but at some point that decision had to be made.”
Dempster threw 128 pitches on Sept. 13, 2011. On regular rest in his next two starts he allowed four earned runs over 13 innings. One difference: Those 127 pitches came over seven innings, not 4 2/3.
“I’ll be fine,” Dempster said. “I know my body and I know what I need to do.”
Assuming the Red Sox do not shift their rotation, Dempster will pitch against Cleveland on Thursday at Fenway Park.
Dempster said he appreciated Farrell giving him a chance to get the win. So did Clay Buchholz.
“It didn’t work out. But I know all the starters liked that [Farrell] did that. You want the manager to trust you and he trusted Demp there,” Buchholz said. “The guy had earned that chance with his experience.”
Had the Red Sox lost the game, Farrell would have been justifiably roasted for chasing a player’s individual statistic at the expense of the team. Leaving Dempster in was obviously a mistake.
But within the clubhouse, loyalty to a veteran player commands respect. Farrell is building a base of support that will serve him well down the road. Compare that to last season and the disdain the Red Sox had for Bobby Valentine.
“The fact he was given that opportunity will make Demp feel better about the whole situation,” Buchholz said. “It’s huge. It’s been good what has happened with this team. Everybody on this gets along and supports each other. That’s the coaches and the players.
“It didn’t work out for John this time. But I bet that pays off down the road in other ways.”