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Top stats to know: Angels at Red Sox

8/20/2014
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Garrett Richards goes for his 14th win tonight. He had 11 in his first three years combined in the majors.The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Boston Red Sox play the third game of their four-game series tonight on "Wednesday Night Baseball" (7 ET on ESPN2/WatchESPN). The Angels have won the first two games of the series.

Soaring Angels

After play on June 5, the Angels were tied for second place in the AL West with the Seattle Mariners, 5½ games behind the Oakland Athletics. Since June 6, Los Angeles has gone a major league-best 43-22 and sit atop the division, a half-game ahead of the A’s.

Angels Bullpen This Season

A big reason for the turnaround has been their bullpen.

Another key for the Angels has been the performance with runners in scoring position. Through June 5, LA hit .245 with RISP. Since then, they are hitting .288, second-best in the majors.

Pitching Matchup

Garrett Richards, who’s turning in a career year this season, will take the mound for the Angels tonight. In three August starts, Richards is 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA

One reason he’s having a career year has been the effective use of his slider. Richards is tied for the AL lead this season with 85 strikeouts in at-bats to end in his slider. Look for that success to continue tonight as Boston is hitting a major league-low .179 in at-bats ending in a slider from a righty.

Clay Buchholz will start for Boston tonight. He has a 5.79 ERA this season, more than three times higher than the 1.74 ERA he posted in 16 starts last season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no pitcher in major league history has had his ERA triple from one season to the next while throwing at least 100 innings in each of those seasons.

Clay Buchholz Cutter Effectiveness
Last 6 Seasons

Buchholz is throwing his cutter much more frequently this season, and it’s getting shelled.

He’s allowed two home runs this season with that pitch, after allowing just three in the previous five seasons combined. Perhaps the velocity loss has something to do with it.

Miscellaneous

• Mike Trout is hitting .378 with five home runs and 14 RBI in his career against the Red Sox. That’s his second-highest batting average against an opponent in his career (minimum 50 plate appearances).

• Josh Hamilton is 2-for-22 (both hits are doubles) in his career against Buchholz. His .091 batting average is his second worst among the 28 pitchers he’s faced at least 20 times.

• David Ortiz is hitting .455 with three homers and eight RBIs in the past six contests.

His 402 home runs as a Red Sox are 50 shy of tying Carl Yastrzemski for second on Boston’s all-time list (Ted Williams holds the franchise record with 521).