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Nova shining behind Yankees' run support

7/9/2012

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Among active pitchers with 35 career decisions, Ivan Nova has the best win percentage.

Ivan Nova takes the mound Sunday night for the New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox (ESPN, 8 ET), looking to improve on an already impressive road record (12-1 with a 3.24 ERA in his past 17 road starts). What's more, Nova is 26-7 through the first 50 starts of his career, the third best win percentage in MLB history (and second best since 1900).

Oddly enough, the all-time series between the Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway Park is tied 460-460-4.

Yankees notes

Entering Sunday, the Yankees score 49.7 percent of their runs via home runs, the most in the majors. Since 2011, New York's offense has also been providing ample run support when Nova starts, tallying 5.67 runs per start.

Highest Win Pct in 1st 50 Career Starts, All-Time

That ranks third in baseball in that span, behind only Derek Holland and Colby Lewis (min. 40 starts). Overall, however, the Yankees are averaging 4.82 runs per game which would be their lowest since the 1992 season (4.52).

New York has struggled in the clutch this year, batting only .231 with RISP and .190 with the bases loaded. Compare that to the past two seasons, when Yankees batters posted a .337 average in 2011 and a .344 average in 2010 with the bases full.

Red Sox notes

Boston, meanwhile, has been suffering from the injury bug. The Red Sox have had 20 different players hit the DL this season, six more than any other AL team. Of those 20, 11 are former All-Stars.

For Jon Lester, the challenge Sunday night will be getting through the third and fourth innings. He’s allowed 28 earned runs in those two innings and 24 in all other innings combined. He's also struggled in his second time through the order, allowing a .293 average. Lester is using his fastball less often the second time facing batters; he's tossing his heater 63 percent of the time in the first plate appearance, but just 51 percent the next time around the order.

The matchup to watch will be Derek Jeter against Lester. Jeter is 17-for-49 (.347 BA) against Lester, the most hits Lester has given up to a batter. Curtis Granderson, on the other hand, has 10 strikeouts in 21 at-bats against Lester.