The AL East has been tight all season, and four of its clubs are keeping it that way. The Boston Red Sox aren't one of them, and if they don't pick it up, their manager might also fade away.
John Farrell is answering questions about job security, and that figures to only gather steam if his club can't end a seven-game losing streak Tuesday night against the visiting Atlanta Braves.
"I don't know that I pay much attention to what's written or talked about. I know it's all part of every major sports city," Farrell told MLB's official website. "I also recognize that this is a bottom-sum game, a bottom-line game. You work in that environment. And yet it doesn't affect the way I deal with players individually, the way I deal with our team. No one likes where we are. That comes with the territory."
The clubs opened four games split between series at Fenway Park and Turner Field on Monday night with the Braves (31-33) winning 4-2 to end Boston's six-game winning streak over Atlanta. A.J. Pierzynski was 2 for 4 and is batting .394 in his last 17 games as a visitor at Fenway, while Jace Peterson extended his career-best hitting streak to nine.
Boston's Dustin Pedroia was 2 for 3 and is batting .407 in 13 games.
The Red Sox (27-38) last dropped eight straight from Aug. 17-24. Pitching was the main concern during that streak and it's happening again this time with the club posting a 6.52 ERA.
Neither team's confidence level in its next starter can be all that high with Julio Teheran and Wade Miley taking the mound.
Teheran (4-2, 4.78 ERA) is 0-1 with a 6.57 ERA in his last four starts, pitching well in the last two until reaching the eighth inning. In Thursday's 6-4 loss to San Diego, the right-hander allowed four runs - three earned - and four hits in seven-plus innings. He gave up three runs in the eighth and didn't get the decision.
Teheran surrendered two in the eighth in a 5-4 win over Pittsburgh on June 6, giving up four runs in seven innings overall, and also struggled to start the seventh against San Francisco on May 31. Teheran has a .259 opponent batting average in the first six innings this season while opponents are 9 for 19 beyond that, but his manager isn't convinced it's an endurance issue.
"I don't think he ran out of gas; he just got himself in some trouble," Fredi Gonzalez said. "I think that's the third start in a row, going back to San Francisco, that we can't get him through an inning there late in the game when we needed to."
Teheran is 1-2 with 6.94 ERA on the road, and 0-2 with a 5.21 ERA in three career starts in AL parks.
Miley (5-6, 5.07) has been roughed up in two of his last three starts, including a 6-5 loss at Baltimore on Thursday. The left-hander gave up five runs and nine hits - three home runs - in four innings.
Farrell's decision to have Miley's day end there resulted in the two arguing in the dugout, though both parties said they're past it.
"When you pitch every five days, you get an opportunity (and) you want it to last as long as possible," Miley said. "It stings a little bit, but that's part of the game."
Miley has posted a 2.01 ERA in a three-start home winning streak. He's won four straight at home twice in his career, but has gone 1-2 with a 5.92 ERA in four starts and a relief appearance against the Braves.