The Atlanta Braves and New York Mets are both trying to build
momentum. The Braves have been very good at that when facing the
Mets, and pitching is a major reason.
Atlanta’s Derek Lowe will try to keep that going by rebounding
from one of his roughest outings of the season in the opener of
this three-game series at Citi Field on Friday night.
The Braves (31-26) are 6-7 since a four-game winning streak last
month, and hope to build on Wednesday’s 4-3 win over San Diego
after dropping the first two games of the series. Each of their
past five games – three wins – have been decided by one run.
“Fifth straight one-run game is not good for the (heart),”
manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “It’s a good start to June.”
The Mets (26-30) are also coming off a victory, erasing a
seven-run, third-inning deficit to rally past Pittsburgh 9-8 on
Thursday for their fourth victory in 12 games.
“You need wins like this to show you can do it,” manager Terry
Collins said. “You have 27 outs. You don’t stop until the game is
Atlanta has dominated New York, winning 13 of the last 17
meetings while compiling a 2.13 ERA – 0.91 from the bullpen. That
includes winning five of six at Citi Field, and outscoring the Mets
10-5 while winning two of three at home April 16-17.
Lowe (3-4, 4.03 ERA) was impressive in a 4-2 win in the opener
of that series, allowing two runs in six innings before the Braves
swept the doubleheader with a 4-0 victory in the nightcap.
The right-hander, who turned 38 Wednesday, hasn’t been nearly as
sharp in eight starts since, going 1-2 with a 5.31 ERA. He’s walked
10 over 9 1-3 innings in his last two starts, and hist most recent
outing was among his worst this season.
Lowe gave up five runs and seven hits while walking five before
getting pulled with one out in the fourth of a 7-6, 12-inning win
over Cincinnati on Saturday.
“It was frustrating,” Lowe said. “It got to the point you were
just trying to throw strikes. That’s never a good sign.
“You can’t act like 10 walks (in two games) isn’t a big issue,
because it is. You really have to try to figure it out.”
Jonathon Niese (4-5, 3.92) has figured out how to succeed at
spacious Citi Field.
The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA in his last four starts
there after going 0-6 with a 6.33 ERA in his previous eight with
all of them resulting in Mets defeats. That stretch includes a 6-4
loss to Atlanta on Sept. 17, during which Niese allowed all of the
Braves’ scoring in unearned fashion in four innings.
He continued his recent stellar stretch at home Sunday, allowing
one unearned run with six strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-5 win
The Mets, though, are 13-16 at home and 3-4 on this 10-game
“We needed to start playing better,” said Jose Reyes, who was 1
for 4 Thursday in his return from the bereavement list. “We know
we’re better than this. We know our manager is behind us 100
percent, and we have to be behind him.”
Reyes, the team leader with a .333 average, is hitting .204 with
10 strikeouts over his last 12 meetings with the Braves, and is 3
for 16 lifetime against Lowe.
He’s 15 for 31 with three doubles and two triples over his past