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Rangers look to bounce back vs. Braves

Apr 26, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA;  Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (5) throws to first base for an out during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers will look to bounce back when they host the Atlanta Braves, the defending World Series champions, on Friday night in Arlington, Texas, in the opener of a three-game series.

Atlanta will send right-hander Ian Anderson (1-1, 5.40 ERA) to the mound, with the Rangers countering with Garrett Richards (0-0, 2.25) as their “opener.”

Anderson gave up two runs on six hits in a five-inning stint at home against Miami in his last start on April 23. His best outing this year was in his second of three starts when he allowed a run and just two hits and struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings at San Diego on April 16.

The Braves are coming off a 5-1 win at home against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. Atlanta captured the three-game series with the Cubs but has not won consecutive contests since April 15-16 at San Diego.

Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson had solo homers for the Braves in the first and third innings, respectively, in the win.

Atlanta broke open the game in the eighth with Adam Duvall’s two-run home run that followed an RBI double by Travis d’Arnaud. Kyle Wright pitched seven innings, allowing one run on three hits to move to 3-0.

Ronald Acuna Jr. returned to the Atlanta lineup on Thursday for the first time since suffering a major knee injury last July. He batted leadoff and played right field, going 1 for 5 with two strikeouts in the victory.

“It’s huge, what Acuna has brought to this team and has ever since he has been here,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker told mlb.com ahead of Thursday’s game. “It’s like he makes all those guys (in the clubhouse) feel whole again.”

Acuna will be eased back into the everyday lineup and is expected to sit out Friday’s game. He should play on Saturday and is likely to be held out Sunday as the Braves will not immediately have him play day games following night games.

The Rangers are coming off losing three of four games against visiting Houston, last year’s American League champ. Texas won the first game against the Astros on Monday but lost the final three in the set, including 3-2 on Thursday.

Rangers starter Martin Perez was perfect through six innings on Thursday and left after the seventh with the game 1-1.

“It’s this kind of the story of the season right now,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “We’ve got to find a way to win, not find a way to lose. I think that’s where we’re kind of at. The team has to kind of look inside yourself and say, ‘OK, how are we going to get better at those spots?'”

Texas got two hits on Thursday from big free-agent signee Corey Seager, including a solo home run in the ninth.

But Marcus Semien, the Rangers’ other huge offseason acquisition, went 0 for 4 and has produced career-low averages over the season’s first three weeks: a .158 batting average, .224 on-base percentage and .211 slugging percentage. He has yet to homer (after hitting 45 in 2021) and has six RBIs in 19 games.

Richards filled the starting pitcher spot for Texas last Sunday in Oakland, going the first two innings and allowing two hits before leaving in favor of Spencer Howard. He pitched two scoreless innings in relief against the Astros on Tuesday.

–Field Level Media