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The San Francisco Giants (56-47) and the Boston Red Sox (55-47) enter this weekend's series with some urgency. Both are competing to get fully secured in the playoff picture, either by winning their division or grabbing their respective conference's wildcard spot.
The Red Sox are in fourth place in a brutal and deep AL East Division and are only ahead of the New York Yankees. Boston is seven-game behind for first place in the division. While it shows how much of a steep climb to the top is, the fact the other two teams are near the same fight for the division shows that anything goes in the AL. The Red Sox are 7-4 in their first 11 games, with two being tough losses at the Oakland Athletics. The Red Sox can't afford losses like these if they want a serious shot at the AL East Divisional title or at least a wildcard spot.
It wasn't long ago when the Giants were struggling to get over .500% consistently. San Francisco had a problem with consistency until the month of June. Since being 32-32 by June 11, the Giants have gone 24-15 going into the weekend series against the Red Sox. Like the AL East, the NL West has deep, talented teams. The Giants enter the weekend series three games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the division. That is a huge difference nearly a month and a half ago. San Francisco currently has the first position in the NL Wildcard if the 2023 MLB Season concludes today.
The Red Sox are loaded up with high-caliber players at the plate this season. From third baseman Rafael Devers to rookie left-fielder Masataka Yoshida, the Red Sox can rely on a series of impact who can either get on base consistently or create big power hits for potential home runs.
Boston ranks fourth in the AL in runs accounted for (516), second in hits accounted for (930), first in double-base hits (226), 10th in home runs (115), fifth in stolen bases (75), fifth in fewest strikeouts encountered (835), second in batting average (.266), second in on-base percentage (.334) and fourth in slugging percentage (.437).
Devers has accounted for 57 runs, 99 hits, a team-high 25 home runs, a team-high 76 RBIs, 34 walks, a batting average of .267, an on-base percentage of .334, and a team-high slugging percentage of .528. Yoshida has accounted for 53 runs, a team-high 110 hits, 12 home runs, 53 RBI, only 44 strikeouts, a team-high batting average of .316, a team-high on-base percentage of .378, and a slugging percentage of .500. Four players for Boston have accounted for 12 or more home runs while the whole starting lineup is spread out in runs accounted for.
The Red Sox are not the most efficient pitching team this season as they are ranked 10th in the AL in ERA (4.29), 12th in hits allowed (871), and 10th in strikeouts encountered (878). The key for the Red Sox is finding the right matchup and rotations each game against the talented batting team of the Giants.
James Paxton (3.46 ERA in 65 innings pitched) will be the starting pitcher for Saturday’s game against the Giants, with Sunday’s starting pitcher to be determined. The Red Sox have had the luxury of utilizing one of the MLB’s best closing pitchers and the Red Sox’s only All-Star selection this season in Kenley Jansen (2.97 ERA in 33.1 innings pitched). One of the biggest concerns with the Red Sox’s pitching is the number of their best pitchers on IL, which could be a problem late in the series.
The Giants have talent and potential when it comes to their performance in the batting game this season. This is a team that has seen its fair share of key players on their championship teams departing via free agency or retiring. There is still potential with this roster to help the Giants compete for a World Series title even though they are not as established as their rivals in the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Entering into the weekend series versus the Red Sox, the Giants rank seventh in the NL in runs accounted for (467), 11th in hits accounted for (837), seventh in home runs accounted for (119), eighth in walks accounted for (349), 11th in batting average (.241), 11th in on-base percentage (.318) and 11th in slugging percentage (.399). The biggest concern for the Giants this season at the plate is their tendency to strike out consistently. The Giants are last (15th) in the NL in strikeouts encountered (977).
What makes the Giants dangerous against the Red Sox's efficient batters is their high-volume pitching. San Francisco ranks fourth in the NL in ERA (3.97), 10th in hits allowed (881), fifth in runs allowed (444), second in home runs allowed (108), first in walks allowed (268) and fifth in strikeouts delivered (888).
They can thank the solid number of reliable pitchers in their bullpen this season, including 2023 All-Star players in starting pitcher Alex Cobb (2.97 ERA in 106 innings pitched) and closing pitcher Camilo Doval (2.35 ERA in 46 innings pitched).
Anthony DeSclafani (4.88 ERA in 99.2 innings pitched) is set to be the starting pitcher for the Giants on Saturday against the Red Sox. Ross Stripling (5.77 ERA in 57.2 innings pitched) will be the starting pitcher on Sunday.
The number of runs set for Friday’s game is set at eight, which could be similar to the games being played on Saturday and Sunday. The key to this series will come down to the pitching and which starting pitchers will be the most consistent. Outside of that, the rotation and closing pitchers will be just as vital. Depending on how the Red Sox will have as the starting pitcher on Sunday, they could have an edge in both games, but the number of key starting pitchers on the IL is concerning. Saturday may give Boston the edge, but the same could not be said for Sunday’s game.
Boston Red Sox
San Francisco Giants
Masataka Yoshida (.316)
Wilmer Flores (.291)
Rafael Devers (25)
Wilmer Flores, J.D. Davis & MIchael Conforto (13)
Rafael Devers (76)
J.D. Davis & MIchael Conforto (51)
Masataka Yoshida (.378)
LaMonte Wade Jr. (.380)
Masataka Yoshida (110)
J.D. Davis (82)
Brayan Bello & Nick Pivetta (7)
Logan Webb (8)
Chris Martin (1.44)
Tyler Rogers (2.25)
Nick Pivetta (100)
Logan Webb (136)
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Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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