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Thursday, April 5, 2012
Opening Day W2W4: Matchups and magic

By Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

Three things to watch for in Thursday’s opening-day game against the Braves:

Opening Day Magic
The Mets are 32-18 in season openers, and remember that they didn’t win any Opening Day games from 1962 to 1969.

They’ve won 18 of the last 20 season openers that were played in New York, including the last two, in 2006 and 2010.

They’ve also won the last eight times they’ve played an Opening Day game at home that was decided by one run. Among the wins was a 6-5 triumph over the Cardinals in 1985, a game won on Gary Carter’s walk-off home run.

Carter’s family will throw out the first pitch this afternoon.

Matt Diaz vs Johan Santana
Diaz is 16-for-32 in his career against the Mets lefty, though he was 0-for-4 in their last meeting.

Diaz is a lefty-shredder, a .329 career hitter against southpaws, which ranks ninth-best among active players. But over the last two seasons, he’s only hit .285, and has shown some statistical vulnerability against fastballs in the upper-third of the strike zone and above.

Hanson’s Hook
Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Thole will have to be mindful of Braves starter Tommy Hanson’s nasty curveball, one that he frequently uses to finish off left-handed hitters in two-strike counts.

Lefties have missed on 44 percent of their swings (mostly with two strikes) against the Hanson curveball over the last three seasons, the highest rate against any starter in the game.