Slumping Mets limp into Atlanta

With their pitching staff providing indication that April was a fluke and Jeff Francoeur duplicating the nosedive he experienced in Atlanta last year, the Mets will limp into Turner Field tonight looking much more vulnerable than that club that swept the Braves at Citi Field less than a month ago.

That three-game series in New York proved to be one of the ugliest the Braves have played in recent memory.   Brian McCann was confused about the infield fly rule.  Yunel Escobar decided he wanted to deny Troy Glaus an RBI on a routine sacrifice fly.  Then to end the forgettable weekend, the Braves were handed a 1-0 loss when rain prevented the resumption of play after the fifth inning of the series finale.

There was a sense that things could get wore for the Braves.   But even the harshest cynic would have had a tough time believing that just four days later, manager Bobby Cox would be staring at a nine-game losing streak and the reality that he would have to spend at least the next two weeks without both Yunel Escobar and Jair Jurrjens.  

When Jurrjens and Escobar were both injured on April 29, there was reason to believe if this would be a season that would lead Cox to wish he had retired one year earlier.  But 18 days later, there is reason to wonder if this is a season that is fittingly shaping up to once again show the kind of steadying influence Cox provides through disastrous stretches.  

The Braves certainly haven’t escaped their early-season mess while winning five of their past six games.  But they have at least put themselves in a good position as they enter a 13-game stretch that will carry them into a three-game series (May 31-June 2) against the Phillies.   

But before looking ahead to this week’s two-game set against the surging Reds or the opportunity to play the Pirates both of the next two  weekends, the Braves must first look to take advantage of the slumping Mets, who have lost five straight and seven of their last eight games.  

When the Braves were in New York, the Mets were in the midst of a 10-1 stretch during which their pitchers posted a 1.99 ERA.    This same pitching staff has posted a 5.38 ERA while going 4-11 in May.   <p>

When he got re-acquainted with some of his former Braves teammates last month, Francoeur was in the early stages of the slump that has led to the .214 batting average that he will carry into tonight’s series opener against Derek Lowe.  

After Francoeur batted .457 with three homers in his first 10 games this year, some Braves fans were wondering why he couldn’t have produced these kinds of numbers under the tutelage of Terry Pendleton.    But in some ways his struggles this season mirror those that he experienced last year in Atlanta.  

Since hittting .302 with a .947 OPS through  his first 14 games this year, Francoeur has batted .154 with a .421 OPS in the 24 games that have followed.  

Last year, he hit .304 with a .780 OPS in his first 14 games and then batted .204 with a .528 OPS over the course of his next 24 games.  

Like Francoeur, Mike Pelfrey enters tonight’s matchup against Lowe without the same kind of confidence that he possessed when he tossed five scoreless innings against the Braves on April 25.   At the time, he hadn’t allowed a run in 24 consecutive innings.   

Through his first three starts in May, the 26-year-old right-hander has completed 17 innings and allowed 13 earned runs.   When he last opposed the Braves at Turner Field on July 17 of last year, he was tagged for nine earned runs and nine hits in just 4 1/3 innings.  

Smoltz vs. Glavine:   If you’re not watching “24” or the game tonight, I really don’t know what else you could be viewing.  But if you want to watch Tom Glavine and John Smoltz play a competitive round of golf tune to the Golf Channel at 9 p.m. ET tonight to see them featured on Donald J. Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf.  If you don’t have a DVR, the match will be shown multiple times throughout this week.
 
 

8 Comments

I’ll have the Braves on my laptop and the NBA playoffs on my TV tonight. No 24 or golf for me. :)
On the Francoeur front… does anyone else remember that he started out pretty decently last year but then fell off the table? Historically, May is his worst month.

Real excited for this upcoming stretch. The offense is clicking, big time. One thing I’m starting to look for again is how Heyward adjust to this ‘mini slump’ he is going through again – look for him to make little adjustments and break out again, especially with moving up in the order. He’s a smart kid, trust him up there. With Rollins coming back I think that we need to recognize that. I don’t know if that is absolutely a good thing for them. Shaefer officially in AAA today – I’m real excited to have him up in the majors soon. I think he will subtly kick start our complete offense and we will propel up in the rankings, especially with Hinske getting more time in left. I don’t think we should talk about what to do with the leftover outfielder(s) until the time comes – adds too much pressure for those players to perform better.

tough loss. i hope Brian and chipper can start playing better baseball – the team really needs it.

and what is up with brian’s defense lately? i runner stealing second or third is almost a guarantee for the runner…..

Tough loss. I’d rather get blown out by 10 runs. That one was a tough pill to swallow. Reyes swiping third was the difference in the game. We keep him from stealing third and the next batter grounds out innocently to short. BMacc has got to be kicking himself after that one. He grounded into a double play, struck out with the bases loaded, and looked terrible defensively. Plus, the winning run of the game stole third. Hopefully he can come out tonight and stick it to Santana.
BMacc was not the only goat though. Terrible base running all night long. Prado in the first inning getting picked off. Chipper getting caught in the rundown instead of just going to second (BMacc would have made it to first and avoided the DP if Chipper forces a throw to second). McClouth running on contact with the infield in and wanting him to run. (That one frustrated me most. We had been grounding into double plays all night. The infield was in, begging him to run… and he did. That one’s on Nate and Snitker.

set cj down, trade sunel.

I want Franceour to do well. I really do. Except against the Braves of course. But he’s up to his old tricks again, so no one can lay this blame on TP. And the whole “well he ruined his swing so badly blah blah” excuse is getting tired.

“Frenchy is 12-for-95 (.126) with three doubles, one homer, 12 RBIs and 23 strikeouts in his past 29 games, with a .173 OBP and .189 slugging percentage. He has as many errors (three) as walks in that stretch. In his past nine games before today, Francoeur was 3-for-35 with no extra-base hits, no walks and 14 strikeouts. Yikes.” (i jacked this from DOB)

Go away kobevm.

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