Freddie Freeman has been the Braves' top hitter this season, checking in at .306/.376/.533 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Red Sox-Braves series preview

June 15, 2015 - 7:01 am
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According to manager John Farrell, the Red Sox are "not in a good place right now as a team." They're 10 games under .500, have lost six straight following consecutive sweeps and are eight games back of first place in the division and the wild card spot. "No one expected us to be in this situation, but that's a reality right now," Xander Bogaerts said after Sunday's 13-5 loss to the Blue Jays. The Sox have a chance to snap their skid when the Braves roll into town Monday for the first of four games between the teams. The first two contests will be played at Fenway Park, while the latter two will take place in Atlanta. The Braves may have a losing record in their last 10 games (4-6) and on the season (30-33), but that doesn't mean they haven't been performing well. Of their players with at least 15 at-bats in the last week, only one player has a batting average under .320. In addition, during the month of June the Braves have scored the most runs of any National League team with 68 and are second to just the Blue Jays (88) in terms of league-wide scoring. They also have the most hits (145) of any team in the majors during June and the highest on-base percentage at .367, and their team average (.303) is second overall to the Jays, who are just .001 ahead of them. Atlanta's issue has been its pitching, but more its relievers than the rotation. The Braves as a whole have the sixth-worst ERA in the league at 4.23. Their starters have a middle of the road, 13th-best ERA of 4.02, but the bullpen has a second-worst 4.64 mark. Atlanta's relief arms have given up the third-most runs (101) and earned runs (96) in the league and have surrendered the fourth-most home runs to opponents, allowing batters to slug at a third-highest rate of .412, above just Red Sox and Rangers relievers. In its last 20 games alone, the bullpen has an ERA of 5.89 and on the year, no team has allowed more runs (109) or earned runs (100) or posted a higher ERA (5.00) in the seventh inning or later than Atlanta. "Every aspect of our [offensive] game has been pretty solid," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We've just got to figure out how to keep the opposition from scoring runs." Here are the pitching matchups for the series: Monday: Rick Porcello (4-6, 5.26 ERA) vs. Williams Perez (2-0, 2.70 ERA) Tuesday: Wade Miley (5-6, 5.07 ERA) vs. Julio Teheran (4-2, 4.78 ERA) Wednesday: Joe Kelly (2-4, 5.45 ERA) vs. Alex Wood (4-4, 3.56 ERA) Thursday: Clay Buchholz (3-6, 4.22 ERA) vs. Shelby Miller (5-2, 2.02 ERA) WHO'S HOT: RED SOX -- Pablo Sandoval has eight hits in his last 23 at-bats, four of which have gone for extra bases, for a slash line of .348/.455/.833. He's also knocked in six runs over that time and has struck out just once. -- In his most recent five games, David Ortiz is 6-for-18 with seven RBIs, four walks and four strikeouts. After failing to knock the ball out of the park in 17 straight games, the designated hitter has three dingers in his last four contests. -- Blake Swihart's batting average has been in flux all season long, but his last five games have shown a bit of an upswing. With the help of a 2-for-3 night in the Red Sox' 13-10 loss to the Blue Jays on Friday, the rookie backstop is hitting .278 in his past 18 at-bats. Swihart has also walked three times in those games, bringing his on-base percentage for the year up from .240 to .264. WHO'S HOT: BRAVES - Second baseman Jace Peterson has a .419/.471/.645 slash line in his past seven games, going 13-for-31 with five extra-base hits, five RBIs and three walks. His 27 RBIs on the season ranks third on the team. -- With 10 hits in his last 29 at-bats, Freddie Freeman is hitting .345 in that stretch and .306 on the season. Slugging .621 in his last seven games with five walks, Freeman is first on the team in that percentage among players who have more than five at-bats this year after doing so at a .533 clip. The first baseman also has six RBIs in that week-long span and leads the Braves overall with 40. -- Closer Jason Grilli has not allowed an earned run in his past four appearances, totaling four innings. He has surrendered just one hit and one walk while striking out four and holding opposing batters to a .154/.200/.308 slash line. During that period, Grilli has posted a WHIP of 0.75 as well. WHO'S NOT: RED SOX -- Mike Napoli has been struggling at the plate in the four games he's played over the last week. Through 16 at-bats, Napoli has slash line of .063/.059/.063 with eight strikeouts and two RBIs. The first baseman hasn't been in the lineup since Friday night when he was 0-for-5 with a trio of K's. -- Wade Miley gave up five earned runs in four innings during his most recent start, allowing batters to hit .450 off of him in that outing. Three of the nine hits he conceded were home runs, and the four total extra-base hits he gave up had opponents slugging .950. -- You can chalk it up to the fact that the Orioles seem to have it in for him, but Rick Porcello also allowed five earned runs in his most recent trip to the hill, though he did so in 5 1/3 innings. Porcello granted the O's 10 hits, though he struck out five and didn't walk anyone. WHO'S NOT: BRAVES -- Only one of Atlanta's players with at least 15 at-bats in the last seven days has a batting average under .300, and that's Juan Uribe. The third baseman is 6-for-24 with a double, an RBI, two walks and five strikeouts. With a .250/.308/.292 slash line, Uribe is underperforming compared to his teammates. -- Center fielder Todd Cunningham has just one hit in his last 14 at-bats, notching a slash line of .071/.071/.071 as he has struck out three times and didn't walk. -- Relief pitcher Brandon Cunniff has allowed three earned runs in his most recent four innings of work, and he's also had opponents slashing .333/.474/.533 that time. Cunniff issued four walks in as many appearances and gave up a home run, though he also struck out six of the 19 batters he faced.