May 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets catcher John Buck (44) blocks a pitch in the dirt against the Atlanta Braves during the seventh inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Seven and Seven: Braves Mets Series Preview

Usually when you hear seven-and-seven, you might be in a bar ordering a drink, but that phrase is apt for the Atlanta Brave’s upcoming three game series.  The Braves will take to the road again and travel to Citi Field in New York to take on the Mets in a three game series, and they’ll be trying to notch their seventh consecutive win.  The Mets, by contrast, will be trying to avoid their seventh straight loss as the two teams, exceedingly familiar with each other, will clash again.

The Atlanta Braves (28-18) have been back home at Turner field for the last two series, where they played in spectacular fashion with both timely hitting and adroit pitching.  Sweeping both the visiting LA Dodgers and the Minnesota Twins, the Braves not only needed those victories to push a touch further up atop the NL East, but they also needed to feel less worn out and recharge their batteries.  Before the home stand, the Braves had played just awful on the road, winning a dismal 13 of 19 after a wonderful start to the season at home.

The Mets (17-27) have been the polar opposite of Atlanta lately, playing awful at home, and the Braves will hope to take advantage of that slump this series.  The history and rivalry of these two teams is far-reaching though, and usually when they play each other their will to win always seems to transcend how they might be playing as a team at the time.  In other words, even though Atlanta is on fire, and the Mets are struggling, don’t expect a walk in Citi Field for the Braves.

Taking the bump for the Braves in game 1 of the series will be Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.03 ERA), who has fallen on a bit of ill luck in most of his outings, lacked the run support he’s needed to get those wins (2nd lowest in the majors), but has pitched pretty well.  Kris has had some control issues this season and given up an uncharacteristic number of early runs off the long ball, but he has improved with each game.  His last outing was a gem, where Medlen gave up only two hits and one unearned run in a seven inning jewel where he still didn’t get the win, being replaced prior to the Braves late inning surge.  When asked about Medlen’s pitching, manager Fredi Gonzalez, in his usually short, but sweet way said:

Medlen was outstanding.  You saw seven innings of him being the Medlen of last year.

I couldn’t agree more, and the Braves will hope that Kris continues to get back the form Braves fans grew so fond of in Medlen’s short season last year.  If the Braves play on the road like they have at home, Kris should also get the run support he’s desperately needed in previous outings.  During the Atlanta home stand and six game sweep, Braves combined for 34 runs on 53 hits, with 9 homers (including a grand slam by Evan Gattis), 5 doubles, and a triple.  Atlanta pitching was also very good, with Braves pitchers combining for a 2.9 overall ERA and 49 strikeouts.

Taking the mound for the Mets in game 1 will be Jeremy Hefner (0-5, 5.00), who has struggled this year along with all other Mets right handers.  He will be looking to turn his stats around, but history won’t be on his side.  Hefner gave up five runs on eight hits in just under three innings in his last outing against the Braves last September.  In games 2 and 3 of the series, respectively, the Braves will put up Mike Minor and Julio Teheran against Dillon Gee and Shaun Marcum.  Both Gee and Marcum are pretty good pitchers, but as mentioned earlier, are struggling this year along with all other Mets righties.  Mike Minor has been the Braves real ace this year so far, and Teheran, like Medlen, has improved with each game.

Of Note: The Mets have weapons in leadoff hitter Daniel Murphy (.302 BA), and the Braves arch-nemesis, David Wright (.293), but Ike Davis is struggling much like the Brave’s own BJ Upton, with Ike hitting just .147, and on a 1-for-38 slump.  BJ Upton is beginning to turn things around a touch, and homered (first since April 23) on Wednesday.  Justin Upton is tied with Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the MLB lead in homers with 14.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Upton became the first player in major league history to homer five times in his first five games with a team.  Jason Heyward is hitting .304 in just six games since returning from the DL last Friday.

Game 1 – Friday, 7:10 PM EST
NYM:  Hefner (0-5, 5.00 ERA)
ATL:  Medlen (1-5, 3.02 ERA)

Game 2 – Saturday, 7:15 PM EST
NYM:   Gee (2-5, 6.04 ERA)
ATL:   Minor (5-2, 2.78 ERA)

Game 3 – Wednesday, 8:05 PM EST
NYM:   Marcum (0-5, 6.59 ERA)
ATL:   Teheran (3-1, 3.99 ERA)

Tags: Atlanta Braves FanSided

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