5 stats to know: Red Sox vs Giants

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Jon Lester has looked good recently but has struggled through 2013.

After playing the New York Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball, the Boston Red Sox won't have any time to rest as they travel west to face the San Francisco Giants (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, ESPN2).

Here's a look at some of the stats our broadcast crew of Dave O'Brien, Rick Sutcliffe, Doug Glanville and Tim Kurkjian will be talking about tonight.

1—- The starting pitching matchup of Jon Lester and Tim Lincecum is the same as the last time these teams met on June 27, 2010. In that game, Jon Lester threw a complete game five-hitter and Tim Lincecum only lasted three innings as the Red Sox won 5-1. Boston has won five of the last six meetings between the teams.

A lot has happened since then. The Giants have won two World Series but are currently 55-68 (.447 winning percentage). If that mark holds for the rest of the season, the Giants would have the second-worst winning percentage of any defending World Series champ, better than only the 1998 Marlins (.333).

2-- Lester had a 3.43 career ERA through September 6, 2011, but has a 4.79 ERA since, with a significant spike in his homer rate from 0.8 to 1.1 per 9 innings.

Opponents vs Jon Lester
2013 Season

Lester has been better recently, with a 3.19 ERA in his last five starts, though his slashline numbers are almost identical to what they were earlier this season.

The three noteworthy differences: Lester has reduced the number of cutters he throws per 100 pitches by half (from 22 to 11), his strikeout-to-walk rate has more than doubled to nearly 5-to-1, and he’s repeatedly escaped trouble with runners in scoring position.

The chart on the right shows the differences.

3—- Tim Lincecum has made five starts since pitching his no-hitter on July 13. Two rate awful from a statistical perspective, with Bill James Game Scores of 12 and 35. The other three have been very good (with an average Game Score of 74).

The common thread between the three good ones was his offspeed stuff, which netted him 37 outs and yielded only five baserunners. In the two rough starts, Lincecum’s offspeed stuff got battered for 10 hits (including two homers) and netted only 11 outs.

4-— The Red Sox hitters will make Lincecum work. They’ve seen almost 900 more pitches than any other team and rank second in the majors in pitches per plate appearance (4.02, trailing the Twins 4.04). Six Red Sox regulars are in the Top 50 in the American League in pitches per plate appearance.

5—- The Red Sox will be calling up top prospect, 20-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts today. The Red Sox have not played a younger player at shortstop since 19-year-old Luis Alvarardo in 1968.

As long as Bogaerts gets his first hit within the next dozen days, he’ll be the youngest Red Sox player to get a hit since 20-year-old Dwight Evans in 1972.

Bogaerts does enter in a mini-slump. He’s 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in his last three games at Triple-A Pawtucket.