Braves-Mets Preview

Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman were expected to be offensive

contributors for the Atlanta Braves. The same can’t be said for

Jose Constanza.

Uggla and Freeman look to extend lengthy hitting streaks while

Constanza tries to remain red-hot when the Braves face the

sputtering New York Mets at Citi Field on Saturday night.

Atlanta (65-48) had hoped Uggla would provide some punch at the

plate when the team acquired him in a trade from Florida during the

offseason.

He’s living up to those lofty expectations during a career-high

26-game hitting streak, during which he’s batting .350 with 11

homers and 25 RBIs. The streak is the longest for the Braves since

Marquis Grissom went 28 games in 1996, and it has increased Uggla’s

season average 42 points to .215.

“There’s no way you can’t think about it,” Uggla told the team’s

official website. “It’s fun. I want it to continue just like

everybody else does.”

Freeman is the majors’ rookie batting leader with a .300

average, and is hitting .416 during a 19-game hitting streak.

Constanza, meanwhile, has been a major surprise in seven games

since being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett. He’s batting .407 with

four runs and three RBIs since replacing the injured Nate McLouth,

who had sports hernia surgery Thursday and will be out at least six

weeks.

“Costanza, Georgie, came in, he’s doing well … that’s his name

right?” right-hander Tim Hudson joked, referring to the “Seinfeld”

character whose name closely resembles Constanza. “He’s made a

great impression right from the start.”

Uggla, Freeman and Constanza accounted for five hits – three for

extra bases – along with three RBIs and two runs Friday to pace the

Braves’ 4-1 win over the Mets (55-56) in the opener of this

three-game set.

Now, Tommy Hanson (11-6, 3.20 ERA) will look to keep his own

streak going.

The right-hander has won six straight decisions on the road

behind a 2.77 ERA in eight starts since losing his first two this

season.

He wasn’t as sharp in his latest outing at home Sunday, yielding

three runs and six hits with four walks in six innings of a 3-1

loss to Florida.

“I expect to go out and do a lot better than that,” he said.

Hanson is 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA in six starts against the Mets,

keeping them from scoring an earned run in three of them. He struck

out nine against New York on April 17, but allowed three runs in

five innings of a 3-2 loss.

The Mets have been outscored 21-9 during a five-game slide.

“We’ve got to give our (pitchers) some support,” manager Terry

Collins said. “We’ve got to give these guys something to relax with

a little bit.”

Jonathon Niese (10-8, 3.94) didn’t get any run support during

his 5 1-3 innings Sunday, when he allowed two runs and fanned six

while not getting a decision in a 3-2 loss at Washington.

A lack of support has been evident in his last five home starts,

as he’s compiled a 3.82 ERA but has just a 1-3 record. He’s been

backed by three runs or fewer in four of those games with all of

them ending in Mets losses.

That stretch includes a start against Atlanta on June 3, when he

gave up two runs in 7 2-3 innings only to have the bullpen falter

in New York’s 6-3 defeat.