Red Sox hope to have Martinez back for finale vs. Braves

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The Boston Red Sox could get a big piece of their lineup back on Wednesday when they host the Atlanta Braves in the finale of a three-game set at Fenway Park.

Left fielder J.D. Martinez has been sidelined since being hit on the left hand by a pitch in Sunday’s win over the Washington Nationals. Martinez could be helpful as the Red Sox try to salvage a game from the three-game series.

The Braves won 10-3 on Tuesday and clinched their first series win over Boston since 2004.

“He’s doing better, for sure,” Boston manager Ron Roenicke said. “Hopefully back in the lineup” on Wednesday.

Martinez has not played up to his high standards this season. He’s batting only .208 — his lifetime average is .292 — and he has three homers and 15 RBIs. He had 36 homers and 105 RBIs in 2019.

Atlanta (21-14) will start left-hander Robbie Erlin (0-0, 6.00) in the series finale. The Red Sox (12-24) moved their scheduled starter, Martin Perez, back at least one day because of a blister, and announced that right-hander Robinson Leyer (0-0, 9.00 ERA) will be the starter Wednesday night.

Lefty Mike Kickham, who made the team as a non-roster invitee, was promoted from the alternate training site on Monday. He has not pitched in a major league game since Sept. 13, 2014, against Los Angeles. He’s expected to follow Leyer on Wednesday night.

Erlin has enjoyed mixed success since joining the Braves on Aug. 9 after being released by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Erlin has failed to register a quality start in three outings, but the Braves are 2-1 with him on the mound.

Like many of the other candidates who have auditioned in the rotation, Erlin is averaging only four innings per start. His stuff has been good — he’s got 20 strikeouts in 18 innings — but needs to pitch deeper into games.

In his last start against Philadelphia on Friday, Erlin allowed four runs in four innings and surrendered two home runs.

The Braves have enjoyed the renewed offensive punch shown by third baseman Austin Riley. After hitting only .150 through the first 18 games, Riley has found a groove. Since Aug. 17, Riley is batting .378 (17-for-45) with seven extra-base hits and 13 RBIs.

“It’s definitely a weight lifted off my shoulders, because I wasn’t putting up good at-bats earlier in the season,” Riley said. “I just wasn’t getting hits. Now that the hits are falling, it’s a big confidence booster. Just got to keep it rolling.”

Marcell Ozuna had the hot bat for Atlanta on Tuesday. The designated hitter was 3-for-5 with six RBIs and raised his batting average to .295.

Ozuna tallied the first three-homer game of his career — and the first ever by a National League player at Fenway Park — and recorded his second multi-homer game of the season. The last Brave with a three-homer game was Matt Kemp in 2017 against Milwaukee.

The Braves are expected to give outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (right hamstring tightness) another day off and try to get him back in the lineup for the opener of Friday’s three-game series against Washington. He has not played since leaving Sunday’s game in the second inning.

–Field Level Media

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