Ryan Dempster tries for his first win of the season on Monday when the Boston Red Sox wrap up a weather-abbreviated three-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays with an early Patriots' Day start at Fenway Park.
Patriots' Day, of course, is a holiday in Massachusetts and Maine that celebrates the anniversary of Paul Revere's ride and the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775. The day will also be marked by the 117th running of the Boston Marathon.
Dempster has yet to win in two starts for the Red Sox, going 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA. He pitched well in a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, as he surrendered three runs (1 earned) and three hits in five innings, but was pulled after a 43-minute rain delay. He also struck out seven in that one and has fanned 15 batters in 10 innings of work.
"Ryan's got the ability to pitch and control damage," said Boston manager John Farrell. "Multiple times tonight with his split and his slider, he got a key strikeout in some moments. Rain cut short his outing. He would have gone back out for that sixth inning."
Dempster has faced the Rays eight times and is 3-4 against them with a 4.24 ERA.
Tampa, meanwhile, will hand the ball to righty Jeremy Hellickson, who is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA. The former American League Rookie of the Year absorbed the loss his last time out in Texas, as the Rangers reached him for three runs and five hits in five innings. Hellickson, though, felt as if he may have been getting squeezed by home plate umpire Marty Foster.
"I thought (Foster) missed some there in the first inning that probably could have gone either way and I just couldn't make an adjustment," Hellickson said. "I just kept trying to make pitches and I wasn't getting them. I threw a couple of fastballs into lefties that were just a hair off. I just kept trying to go there and I wasn't getting them."
Hellickson owns a lifetime 3-2 mark versus the Red Sox with a 4.47 ERA in 10 games (9 starts).
Boston has won the first two games of this series and on Sunday Clay Buchholz took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and racked up a career-high 11 strikeouts in the Red Sox' 5-0 victory.
Buchholz (3-0) had issued just four walks before surrendering a leadoff single to Kelly Johnson in the top of the eighth and gave up one more hit before finishing out the inning. It was the third straight standout effort for the righty to begin the season, having yielded just one run over 14 frames in winning his first two starts.
Dustin Pedroia went 3-for-4 with a run scored to pace the Red Sox offensively, with Mike Napoli contributing a two-run double for Boston, which has won four of six.
The Rays, now losers of five of their last six, mustered just three hits total and have scored a mere four runs over their past four outings.
Alex Cobb (1-1) worked 6 2/3 innings for Tampa Bay, allowing four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits while striking out six.
Boston has won seven of its last nine Patriots' Day contests and nine of its last 12 dating back to 2001. However, the Rays beat them in this game a year ago.
The Red Sox have been scheduled to play at home on Patriots' Day every year since 1959.
Also, on this the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier Major League Baseball is commemorating this special occasion by having all players and on-field personnel once again wear the Hall of Famer's No. 42.