Second Series Of The Year Feels Like A Big One

Say what you will, but I’m pretty excited for tonight’s Mets-Braves game.  Yes, I know it’s only the fourth game of the season, but no real Met fan can deny how pleasant it would be to win this series.  The Mets roll red-hot into Atlanta for the Braves’ home opener, following their three game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.  But Atlanta broke out the brooms on the road as well, as they took all three games (the first two in extra innings) against the Phillies.  With both teams undefeated and the marquee matchup of Smoltz vs. Glavine set to air before a national audience on Saturday afternoon, most of the eyes of the baseball world will be focused on Turner Field this weekend.  So what better opportunity could the Mets have to show that last year was no fluke and that they are capable of putting the Braves, and all the ghastly memories that come with them, away for good?

Tonight’s pitching matchup probably tips the scales ever so slightly in the Mets’ direction, as lefties Oliver Perez and Mark Redman will take the hill for New York and Atlanta, respectively.  Most Mets fans know Perez’s story: he’s got great stuff, but he’s very inconsistant.  Down the stretch for the Mets last year, however, Perez improved.  From September 1st through his strong start in Game 7 of the NLCS, he posted an ERA of 4.50 and struck out 39 batters in 40 1/3 innings.  Meanwhile, Atlanta counters with Redman, the former Kansas City Royal, who has eaten innings throughout his career, but not eaten them terribly effectively.  The 33-year-old gave up a lot of hits last year (202 in 167 innings pitched), recorded only 76 strikeouts, and doesn’t throw particularly hard.

Observations

I get the feeling that winning this series will require a group effort,
with players chipping in off the bench and the bullpen playing a more
significant role than in the series against St. Louis . . . 

Shawn Green is 6 for 6 against Redman in his career, which could lead Willie Randolph to put him in the starting lineup tonight over Lastings Milledge, who Randolph said might start tonight against the left-hander Redman . . .

Atlanta’s home opener is tonight, so the park should be full, as this old rivalry heats up once more.  Should be a fun series . . .

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