Atlanta Braves @ Mets Series Preview

The Mets have to be feeling rather well going into this series against the Braves. Well, as good as they can be by still being in dead-last place, but their sweep of the Cincinatti Reds has to be some kind of a booster shot for them. The Braves, historically, have been immune to any kind of booster shots the Mets have received, tending to swat the Mets momentum aside.

The Mets shouldn't be thinking about any real chance of making a run for the playoffs, but rather showcasing some trade bait in this series. The Dodgers will be probably watching Jeromy Burnitz carefully, and Mets fans will hope Armando Benitez pitches well, maybe enough to intrigue a team into facilitating a trade for him. Preferably before the All-Star break, so Mets fans don't have to see him pitch in the game in a Mets uniform.

The Mets go into this series having played .500 ball in their last 10 games, but on a three-game sweep high, while the Braves have also won three straight to put together a 6-4 ten-game stretch. Neither team is playing world-beating ball of late. The Phillies are hoping that the Mets win two of three or sweep so that they can gain ground on the Braves.

The Braves carry their usual big bats to Shea in Gary Sheffield, Javy Lopez, and Andruw and Chipper Jones. Mets pitchers will have to be careful, of course.

For the Mets to have a chance, they need to have Floyd and Burnitz hitting like they have been recently and get some other timely hitting as well, with Timo Perez needing to keep his hot hitting going as well.

Here are the pitching match-ups:

Game One
Horacio Ramirez (7-2, 3.75) vs. Jae Seo (5-4, 3.35)

Ramirez has been the biggest surprise of the season for the Braves, winning his last five decisions. He's not overpowering either, so he's good at getting the hitters to hit them where his fielders are. Seo, the early season sensation for the Mets, has been struggling his last two starts. He fell apart his last start after a throwing error by Tony Clark set a chain reaction of runs. This will be an important start for Seo, because it will help determine other pitcher's fates. How long will Howe keep running Seo out if his effectiveness is limited?

Game Two
Shane Reynolds (5-4, 6.04) vs. TBA

The Mets starter has been a secret. Maybe to liven things up from this dreary season, they should send him out wearing a mask, and then right before the first pitch some music plays and as the crowd cheers, he rips his mask off to show either: Mike Bacsik, Jeremy Griffiths or Jason Roach. Ok, perhaps a little too much wrestling influence there. Any of those three might take the hill on Tuesday evening. Reynolds, who the Mets pursued before the Braves tendered him a better offer, has not lived up to Braves pitching standards and this represents the Mets best chance to leave a lot of numbers on the scoreboardm. The right-hander gave up five runs in his last outing in route to losing his third straight start. Mets hitters need to smell blood here.

Game Three
Russ Ortiz(11-4, 3.50) vs. Tom Glavine (6-8, 4.64)

This is the match-up between the former Braves' ace and the man who has supplanted him as the ace of the Braves. Before he came to Atlanta, Ortiz was a talented pitcher who was prone to losing his concentration. Then Leo Mazzone got his mitts on him and now he's their ace and has been particularly hot after winning his last four starts. Glavine, though, has had decidedly different results. He won his first game since May 18 in his last start against the Reds on Saturday. He'd like to make it two in a row, but Ortiz is going to make it tough.

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