Sunday, July 6, 2014
Series preview: Mets vs. Braves
By Adam Rubin
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY SportsMETS (39-49, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (49-39, first place/NL East)
Tommy La Stella, a native of Closter, N.J., has taken over at second base for the Braves.
Monday: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-3, 3.72) vs. LHP Mike Minor (2-5, 4.73), 7:10 p.m. ET
Tuesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (1-5, 3.77) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (8-5, 2.29), 7:10 p.m. ET
Wednesday: RHP Dillon Gee (3-1, 2.73) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (7-5, 3.93), 7:10 p.m. ET
Thursday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-7, 4.04) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (8-6, 3.67), 7:10 p.m. ET
Braves short hops
• With a 3-1 victory Sunday at Turner Field, the Arizona Diamondbacks snapped Atlanta’s season-high nine-game winning streak. The Braves had been bidding for their third straight series sweep, after winning four straight at Philadelphia and then three games against the Mets at Turner Field. The bullpen allowed one earned run in 22 2/3 innings during the winning streak.
• Gerald Laird returned to the starting lineup Friday after missing last week’s Mets series to rest a strained right oblique. Christian Bethancourt handled the catching duties against the Mets and figures to continue to get the bulk of the starts, even with Laird now available. The rookie has performed solidly since his call-up nine days ago, hitting .292.
No. 1 catcher Evan Gattis (.290, 16 HR, 39 RBIs) landed on the DL on June 29 with a bulging disk in his back. He subsequently received an epidural injection and remains sidelined. Gattis continues to experience tightness.
• Right fielder Jason Heyward received ESPN’s Defensive Player of the Month Award for June. He tied for the major league lead with eight defensive runs saved during the month. Heyward is hitting .125 (6-for-48) with no homers, three RBIs and 10 walks in his last 15 games (14 starts). Heyward nonetheless has reached base safely in 48 of 54 games since May 9.
Alex Brandon/Associated PressJason Heyward was ESPN's Defensive Player of the Month for June.
• Center fielder B.J. Upton had a career-high 11-game hitting streak snapped Sunday. The hitting streak coincided with becoming the team’s leadoff hitter.
• Reigning NL Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons was installed in the No. 2 spot in the batting order beginning June 27. He is hitting .340 (17-for-50) in 12 starts in that slot.
• Right-hander Julio Teheran, first baseman Freddie Freeman and closer Craig Kimbrel will represent Atlanta in the July 15 All-Star Game at Minnesota. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has been selected to serve on NL manager Mike Matheny’s staff.
Freeman has played all but two innings for the Braves this season.
Kimbrel struck out all three batters he faced in recording last Tuesday’s save against the Mets. It marked the fifth time this season and 24th time in Kimbrel’s career that he faced at least three batters in an appearance and struck out each one. Kimbrel has struck out 43 percent of the batters he has faced in his career, the highest percentage in major league history among relievers with at least 150 saves. Billy Wagner ranks second at 33 percent.
Kimbrel’s 89.7 career save percentage (166-for-185) ranks third all time among relievers with at least 150 chances, trailing only Eric Gagne (91.7 percent) and John Smoltz (91.1).
• The Braves are the youngest team in the National League. Their average age on Opening Day was 27 years, 255 days.
• Dan Uggla (.163, 2 HR, 10 RBIs, 39 Ks in 129 at-bats) has been relegated to the bench. He has started only two games since May 23. Uggla is earning $13 million this season. He also is under contract for 2015 at $13 million.
Rookie Tommy La Stella -- a Closter, N.J., native and product of St. Joseph High School in Montvale -- has taken over the position. La Stella, 25, got off to a quick start. He then became mired in an 0-for-23 skid until rebounding.
La Stella (.294) had been installed as the leadoff hitter beginning June 18, but he subsequently was moved to No. 2 and then No. 7. He has three straight multi-hit games. La Stella spent his freshman year of college playing at St. John’s before transferring to Coastal Carolina.
• Right-handed reliever David Carpenter was activated from the DL on Wednesday. He had landed on the DL on June 17 with a strained biceps. Ex-Mets reliever Pedro Beato, who had been promoted to replace Carpenter, landed on the DL two days later with a right elbow strain.
• Mike Minor is 0-2 with a 4.46 ERA in his last eight starts. He allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Mets last week.