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May 6, 2024 6:37 pm

Braves face Red Sox looking to get back on track

Marcell Ozuna

The off-kilter Atlanta Braves hope a quick stop at home will put them back on the right path.

The Braves open a two-game home series on Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox after they lost five of their last six games and were swept in a three-game series over the weekend by the surging Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Red Sox broke a three-game losing streak on Sunday with a 9-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

The Red Sox won three of four games against the Braves last season and split the two that were played at Atlanta one year ago this week.

The pitching matchups for the series opener features Boston’s Kutter Crawford (2-1, 1.56 ERA) against Atlanta’s Reynaldo Lopez (2-1, 1.50).

Atlanta’s bats were quiet during its six-game West Coast trip, producing only 14 runs. After averaging 9.9 hits and 5.9 runs over the first 24 games, the Braves have averaged only 6.1 hits and 2.5 runs over the last eight games and fell out of first place in the National League East.

“We’re struggling offensively. There’s no doubt about that,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker told reporters. “We’re not hitting on all cylinders. It happens. Guys are working hard and it’s just not translating on the field right now.”

Matt Olson (.197, three home runs), Austin Riley (.237, three homers) and reigning National League MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. (.268, two homers) have not produced to their standards. But Acuna did hit a home run Friday, with his first three-hit game of the season Saturday.

Only Marcell Ozuna (.306, 10 homers, 33 RBIs) and Ozzie Albies (.297) have provided offensive consistency.

The Braves are running into a hot pitcher, too.

Over his last 11 starts, dating back to Aug. 12, Crawford has recorded a 1.88 ERA and a .186 opponent batting average. In his last start on Wednesday against San Francisco, he pitched a career-high seven innings and allowed two runs on four hits, two walks and six strikeouts.

In a slight setback, Crawford’s homerless streak of 51 2/3 innings, the longest active streak in the major leagues, was snapped.

“That was good,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters. “He worked hard in the offseason to get to this point. Very proud of him. He’s been awesome, absolutely great. He got hit hard in the middle of the game, but that’s part of it, right? He threw a lot of strikes with good stuff, and he maintained his stuff throughout the outing.”

Crawford will make his first career appearance against the Braves.

Lopez continues to provide consistent starts for Atlanta. In his most recent outing Tuesday at Seattle, he took a loss after giving up a season-high three runs on six hits, two walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.

In six career appearances (three starts) against Boston, Lopez is 2-1 with a 4.03 ERA. He pitched one inning of scoreless relief against the Red Sox last year.

The series will also mark the return of former Atlanta prospect Vaughn Grissom. He was the key part of the trade that brought pitcher Chris Sale from Boston to Atlanta. Sale will start Wednesday’s game.

Grissom, who had been out all season with a left hamstring strain, made his debut with the Red Sox on Friday against the Twins and went 1-for-5 with a two-run double on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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