Red Sox in need of strong start vs. Braves

MLB Baseball

Garrett Richards will attempt to stabilize the rotation of the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday when he faces the Braves in the finale of a two-game set in Atlanta.

Red Sox starters have thrown fewer than five innings in five of their last nine games. Prior to that, the team’s starters had worked at least five innings in 35 of their previous 38 contests.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez worked only four innings on Tuesday, however he showed positive signs by fanning eight and throwing 53 of 80 pitches for strikes.

“We’re leaving a lot of pitches down the middle and those guys are taking advantage of them,” Boston manager Alex Cora said.

Said Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush: “We’re also in a stretch where we don’t have any off days for quite a while and we’re playing some tougher lineups lately. So I think you put all that together.”

Richards (4-4, 4.09 ERA) will face Atlanta’s Ian Anderson (4-3, 3.26) in the final meeting between the two clubs this season. Boston has won two of three previous meetings.

Richards did not factor into the decision against Toronto in his last start on Friday. He allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings and gave up a season-high 11 hits.

Richards has been consistent, going at least five innings in each of his last nine starts, his longest streak since doing so in a career-high 27 consecutive outings over the 2015-16 seasons. He has allowed three or fewer earned runs in five of his last six starts and has a 3.36 ERA in his last nine starts.

Richards faced the Braves on May 25 and took the loss, giving up three runs in 5 2/3 innings. He 0-1 with a 2.31 ERA in two career starts against the Braves.

Anderson had a nice bounce-back start last Thursday at Philadelphia. He threw seven scoreless innings against the Phillies after recording consecutive starts that saw him allow four runs and fail to pitch past the fifth in both.

Anderson defeated Boston last season in his lone career meeting with the club. He allowed two runs in six innings while striking out eight.

Atlanta right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. showed no problems Tuesday with the right pectoral tightness that forced him to leave Sunday’s game.

Acuna had two hits, including a double, and stole a base. He has reached base safely in 23 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors. His next home run will be the 100th of his career.

The Braves are awaiting the report on rookie left-hander Tucker Davidson, who left Tuesday’s game with left forearm tightness. The velocity on his fastball dropped from 92-94 mph to 88-90 mph during his 2 1/3 innings. Davidson will be evaluated on Wednesday, but will likely be placed on the injured list.

“You could tell something wasn’t right,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s going to happen to the best of them and it hurts when it does. … Hopefully it’s nothing a little rest won’t alleviate.”

The Braves have lost five of their last six and are 2-9 against American League teams.

The Red Sox have won two straight and nine of their last 13. Boston is 9-2 versus National League representatives.

–Field Level Media

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