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ALDS Game 2: David Price vs. John Lackey

Posted by David Sabino  October 5, 2013 07:43 AM

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Tampa Bay Rays David Price.jpgOnly two pitchers have had a better ERA in Fenway Park than today's starter for the Rays, David Price.

The Red Sox started the playoffs with a bang, racking up a dozen runs against the Rays to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven ALDS. That was the 12th time the Sox had scored a dozen runs in a game in 2013 (and sixth time in the team’s postseason history), and curiously none of those came in a game pitched by by Game 2 starter, John Lackey who has had trouble with run support all season. Given the way he’s pitched against today’s opponent, he’ll need all of the runs the Red Sox can muster.

Since coming to Boston, Lackey is 1-3 with a 7.11 ERA and 1.93 WHIP against the Rays. If you think that most of the damage against him had to come during his abysmal 2011 Sox debut campaign, think again.

In two starts this year, both at The Trop in St. Pete, Lackey was lit up to the tune of nine earned runs and 19 hits in just 10 combined innings, including the game in which the Lackey plunked Tampa Bay’s Matt Joyce—a career .333 hitter against him with two home runs and six runs knocked in —with a pitch, sparking yet another chapter in this often heated rivalry.

Also chomping at the bit to face Lackey is third baseman Evan Longoria who has taken the big righthander deep twice as part of his 27 earned bases (including three walks) in 34 plate appearances. Second baseman Ben Zobrist who homered in Game 1 off of Jon Lester, also has had a great time batting against Lackey, touching him up to the tune of a .40 batting average and 1.034 OPS. But when it comes to ownership, you’re hard-pressed to find someone more successful against Lackey than Yunel Escobar. In 19 plate appearances against the Sox starter, the shortstop has a career batting average of .533, third (behind Endy Chavez’s .615 and Adam Lind’s .536) among all players with at least 10 career opportunities against him.

The Red Sox haven’t had similar success against today’s starter, David Price. In fact, far from it. In what could be his final appearance for the Rays, 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner will be in the spotlight against the AL’s best offense, one in which he’s had tremendous success against throughout his career. This season he subdued the Sox, allowing just 24 of the 116 batters he faced to reach base, creating a microscopic slash line of .171/.191/.297 against him. In three starts at Fenway Park he was even better, going 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA and 0.58 WHIP. Each of the three runs the Red Sox scored off of him in Boston came on solo home runs (David Ross, Mike Napoli, Brandon Snyder) and he lowered his career ERA in the shadow of the Green Monster to 1.88. That places him second among all active players with at least 20 innings pitched at the Fens (somewhat unsurprisingly, Koji Uehara is best at 1.60). And according to baseball-reference.com, the only other starter since 1916 with over 50 innings pitched and a better ERA at Fenway Park? Babe Ruth (1.76).

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

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