The Boston Red Sox became the first team to 20 wins on Thursday. They will try to add to that number on Friday when they begin a three-game series against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Boston won the rubber match of its set with the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, as Ryan Dempster tossed six solid innings in a happy homecoming, and the Red Sox kept up their early-season success with a 3-1 win.
Pitching in his native country for the first time in 10 years, the Canadian Dempster (2-2) yielded just a run on four hits to help Boston take the rubber match of this three-game series and improve its MLB-best record to 20-8 with its seventh win in eight outings.
Dempster became the first Canadian-born Red Sox pitcher to start and win a game in Canada since Rheal Cormier on Aug. 5, 1995.
"He didn't have his best stuff overall tonight, but he uses the whole count when he needs to," said manager John Farrell. "He's got the knack to not let the game speed up on him and try to reach back and just go with sheer velocity."
Mike Carp and Jacoby Ellsbury delivered RBI singles to back the Red Sox' strong pitching effort, which included a combined three shutout frames from a quartet of relievers. Joel Hanrahan finished out the victory with a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the season.
Hoping to keep the Red Sox in the win column on Friday will be lefty Felix Doubront, who has won his last three starts and is 3-0 with a 4.24 ERA on the season. Doubront defeated Houston on Saturday, limiting the Astros to three runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Doubront, though, is 0-2 lifetime versus the Rangers with a 10.32 ERA in five games (2 starts).
Texas, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Derek Holland, who is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA. Holland lost to Minnesota on Saturday, as the Twins reached him for four runs (3 earned) and five hits in seven innings.
Holland has faced the Red Sox five times and is 4-1 against them with a 3.00 ERA.
Texas heads into this series stumbling a bit following a 3-1 loss to Chicago on Thursday. Adrian Beltre hit a solo homer for the Rangers, who lost their first series this season. Starter Justin Grimm (2-1) gave up three runs on six hits while striking out nine and walking four over 6 2/3 innings.
The Rangers have dropped four of five overall, but still hold a 1 1/2-game lead on the Oakland Athletics in the American League West.
Texas captured six of its eight meetings with the Red Sox last season.