The NL East-leading Atlanta Braves enter a three-game set
against the second-place New York Mets on Friday night having won
14 of their last 18 series.
To extend that surge heading into the All-Star break, the Braves
will have to avoid a repeat of their previous visit to Citi
A slow start gave little indication of Atlanta having any
success as it dropped 14 of 22, including all three games in New
York from April 23-25. That sweep was part of an 0-7 road trip –
the franchise’s worst in 61 years – and first nine-game losing
streak since 2006.
Since ending that skid, the Braves (50-35) are a major
league-best 42-21, and have a three-game lead over the Mets
Atlanta has helped its cause with three straight series
victories over division rivals, and took two of three in
Philadelphia earlier this week after dropping eight of its previous
13 road games.
Martin Prado had five hits and three homers during the wins over
the Phillies to boost his NL-leading average to .336. The second
baseman, who’s heading to his first All-Star game next week, enters
the matchup with the Mets batting .369 in his last 38 games.
While Prado has been consistent lately, the team he’ll face next
hasn’t. New York has dropped 10 of 18, gone winless in three
consecutive series, and alternated losses and wins in its last
seven home games.
The Mets bench took a hit when Fernando Tatis was sent to the
disabled list Monday with a sprained right shoulder, leaving the
team with one right-handed batter in reserve – catcher Henry
Blanco. That could have New York making a move before the series,
especially with left-handers going 2 for 26 this season against
Braves closer Billy Wagner.
“We’ve talked about adding a right-handed hitter for Tatis,
which you could possibly use with a left-handed stopper like the
Braves have,” manager Jerry Manuel told the team’s official
Despite injuries and inconsistency, Manuel’s team managed to win
its sixth consecutive series at Citi Field on June 27 but that run
ended with Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Cincinnati.
R.A. Dickey (6-1, 2.62 ERA) will try to help New York bounce
back by winning his first career start against the Braves.
Following his worst performance of the season, the knuckleballer
nearly earned his seventh victory in eight starts by allowing two
unearned runs in seven innings Saturday at Washington. The Mets
bullpen, though, gave up four runs in the final two frames of a 6-5
Dickey has no record and a 15.00 ERA in two appearances against
The Braves will counter with Tommy Hanson (8-5, 4.19), who has
appeared to get past a recent rough stretch.
Before Saturday’s 4-1 win over Florida, Hanson hadn’t gotten out
of the fourth inning in back-to-back losses. Against the Marlins,
he allowed one unearned run while striking out eight.
“I think that’s the biggest thing I could take away from those
two bad outings: Just trust my stuff and stay aggressive,” Hanson
Hanson allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings in his
only start last season against the Mets but was on the wrong end of
a 1-0 decision in a rain-shortened, 5 1/2-inning game April 25.
The teams split two games in Atlanta from May 17-18 with both
decided by 3-2 margins.