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Wednesday, August 28, 2013
5 stats to know: Orioles at Red Sox

By Jeremy Mills

With only about a month left in the season, every game is essential as the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox battle for playoff spots in the American League. The AL East rivals continue their three-game series at Fenway Park tonight on "Wednesday Night Baseball" at 7 ET on ESPN.

Here are five stats the broadcast crew will be discussing during tonight's game:

1. Last season, the Orioles made the playoffs for the first time since 1997. They did it on the strength of a 29-9 record in one-run games, the best in the modern era. This year, they’ve slumped to 14-23 in one-run games, the second-worst record in the majors.

2. The Red Sox have opened up a 2½ game lead in the AL East after finishing last in the division in 2012. They are looking to become just the seventh team since the current divisional format began in 1995, and just the third outside the National League West, to go from worst to first in their division.

One of the keys to the turnaround has been improved health. Last season, only five hitters played in 100 games. This season, six hitters have already played 100 games and three more are on pace to do so before the end of the season (Stephen Drew and Shane Victorino are currently at 99, Jonny Gomes at 93).

3. Chris Davis leads the majors with 46 home runs and has a chance to break the AL record of 61 home runs by Roger Maris in 1961. Davis has been especially good against outside pitching, slugging .776 and hitting 32 homers against such pitches, 13 more than any other player.

He is the fourth player in Orioles history to hit 45 home runs in a season and is on pace to break the franchise record of 50 home runs by Brady Anderson in 1996.

Davis has the most home runs through 130 team games by any player since David Ortiz and Ryan Howard each had 47 at this point in the 2006 season.

4. The Red Sox average only 3.4 runs per game when John Lackey starts, the fifth-lowest total in the American League. Lackey has an 8-11 record despite leading Boston’s qualifying starters in ERA, WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

5. Boston has seen 800 more pitches than any other team in baseball this season and is second in the majors in pitches per plate appearance. Six Red Sox regulars are in the top 50 in the American League in pitches per plate appearance. Those long at-bats mean that the Red Sox get to the opponent’s bullpen faster than any other team in the majors.