Monday’s Red Sox-Giants matchups: Jon Lester vs. Tim Lincecum

August 19, 2013 - 10:46 am

While most of the excitement surrounding Monday'€™s Red Sox-Giants series opener at AT&T Park in San Francisco centers on top prospect Xander Bogaerts, there will be a pretty good pitching matchup going on, too: left-hander Jon Lester vs. right-hander Tim Lincecum. It is a pairing, however, that has seen better days. Lester (4.31 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) hasn'€™t worked more than seven innings in a game in three months, but has been trending upward the last five weeks -- a 4 1/3-inning, six-run performance Aug. 2 against the Diamondbacks serving as an anomaly. He owns a 3.38 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 3.67 strikeout-per-walk ratio while averaging more than six innings per outing in that time. The two most recent starts -- a combined 13 1/3 innings and three earned runs -- in particular have instilled hope. Most recently, Lester worked 6 1/3 innings in an eventual 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Blue Jays on Wednesday. Lester allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks and three strikeouts, which is also his lowest total in nearly three months. "I think our game plan was sound tonight," Lester said after the game. "It'€™s not like we were pitching out of trouble every inning. Had a couple of innings. [Edwin] Encarnacion hit I thought was a pretty good changeup for a leadoff double in the fourth or fifth. Really just trying to pitch around that, one pitch away from getting out of that inning and yank a fastball to [J.P.] Arencibia. But '€¦ I think our game plan was sound. Like I said, I didn'€™t feel like I had my best offspeed stuff I'€™ve had the past couple of starts, but I was able to go out there and battle." Lincecum (4.38 ERA, 1.28 WHIP), meanwhile, has had a similarly up-and-down season highlighted by a no-hitter against the Padres on July 13. Since that 148-pitch effort, Lincecum has posted a 4.83 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in five starts, each of which has been either very good or very bad. His last time out, Wednesday against the Nationals, it was the latter. He unraveled during a five-run fourth inning and finished the outing having allowed six runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings. One of those runs came on an Ian Desmond homer, the sixth he has given up in 31 2/3 innings since the no-no. Lester and Lincecum, who are both 29 and went to high school 45 minutes from each other outside Seattle, have pitched against each other only once previously: June 27, 2010. The Red Sox clearly got the better of that one, with Lester tossing a complete-game gem in a 5-1 win. He limited San Francisco to one run on five hits while striking out nine. Lincecum allowed four runs on five hits and three walks while lasting only three innings. David Ortiz set the tone with a solo homer in the first inning. Red Sox vs. Lincecum (RHP) Stephen Drew (46 plate appearances): .214 BA/.267 OBP/.452 SLG, 3 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, 3 walks, 13 strikeouts Shane Victorino (42): .237/.310/.342, 1 double, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts Jonny Gomes (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts Mike Napoli (3): .000/.000/.000 Daniel Nava (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout David Ortiz has a home run and a strikeout in two plate appearances against Lincecum. No other Red Sox batters have ever faced Lincecum. Giants vs. Lester (LHP) Marco Scutaro (24 plate appearances): .318 BA/.375 OBP/.364 SLG, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout Jeff Francoeur (14): .077/.143/.077, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts Hunter Pence (6): .000/.167/.000, 1 walk Buster Posey (4): .000/.000/.000 Andres Torres (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout Pablo Sandoval (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeout No other Giants batters have ever faced Lester.

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