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Five stats you’ll likely hear quite a bit more about on tonight’s "Sunday Night Baseball" matchup between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers on ESPN.
1. Dodgers rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu has 46 strikeouts through his first six appearances, the second most that an active pitcher has had within the first half-dozen games of his career (trailing only Stephen Strasburg’s 53) and the second most in Dodgers history, trailing only Hideo Nomo’s 49 in 1995.
Despite a fastball that tops out at only 90 miles per hour, Ryu is averaging 11 strikeouts per nine innings. One aspect of his game that intrigued "Sunday Night Baseball" analyst Orel Hershiser was Ryu’s curveball.
The 19 mph difference in velocity between Ryu’s average fastball and curveball ranks as the third largest among NL starters.
Ryu’s slider has actually been the more valuable of his breaking pitches. It has netted him 25 outs and yielded only two hits.
2. Giants starter Matt Cain had a particularly bad April. His 6.49 ERA for the month was the highest by a Giants starter in April since Brett Tomko’s 7.57 in 2004, and his nine home runs allowed in April matched the club record set by Allen Watson in 1996.
Cain has not had the same level of success when pitching to the inner third of the plate/off the inside corner that he’s used to having. He’s already yielded six home runs on pitches to that area, more than he allowed in either 2011 (five) or 2012 (four).
Cain hasn’t lost any velocity on his fastball. But his miss rate is down on pitches in the strike zone. His norm is usually about 15 to 16 percent. This season, he’s netting only an 11 percent miss rate on swings against those pitches.
Cain was 0-8 at one point in his career against the Dodgers, but he is 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his past 10 starts against them.
3. Buster Posey, who hit his first career walk-off homer on Friday, would be among those very much looking forward to facing a left-handed pitcher. He's hitting .360 against southpaws this season. In 2012, Posey hit .433 with 13 homers against lefties. He’s one of three players to hit at least .430 with 10 homers against lefties in the past 30 years -- Jeff Bagwell (1994) and Ryan Braun (2007) are the other two.
4. Fresh off his three-homer performance in the World Series, Pablo Sandoval has gotten off to a good start in 2013.
Sandoval is the Vladimir Guerrero of his era -- a hitter who can do damage to any pitch in any location. He has the most hits in the majors against pitches outside the strike zone over the past five seasons with 266. Ichiro Suzuki ranks second with 223.
5. The Dodgers' woes on the left side of the infield have been a problem all season. Hanley Ramirez returned for two games before being placed on the disabled list.
And the Dodgers have gotten next to nothing from their third basemen this season. In fact, Dodgers pitchers have a higher slugging percentage than those players currently manning the hot corner.