New York Mets: Arodys Vizcaino

Series preview: Mets vs. Braves

May, 23, 2013
5/23/13
1:07
PM ET

USA TODAY Sports
This weekend at Citi Field, the Mets face (left to right) Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran.
METS (17-27, fourth place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (28-18, first place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (0-5, 5.00) vs. RHP Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.02), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.04) vs. LHP Mike Minor (5-2, 2.78), 7:15 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Shaun Marcum (0-5, 6.59) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (3-1, 3.99), 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

Braves short hops

• Left fielder Justin Upton, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Jan. 24, is tied with Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the MLB lead in homers with 14. Upton became the first player in major league history to homer five times in his first five games with a team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

• Right fielder Jason Heyward is hitting .304 with two RBIs in six games since returning from the disabled list Friday. Heyward underwent an appendectomy on April 22. He missed 22 games. He was hitting .121 when he landed on the DL.

• Center fielder B.J. Upton (.155, 4 HRs, 7 RBIs) snapped an 0-for-16 skid Saturday. He then homered Wednesday for the first time since April 23. He has yet to record a hit in three straight games, and will be bidding to accomplish that Friday at Citi Field.


Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Evan Gattis has an MLB rookie-leading 10 homers.


• Catcher Brian McCann made his season debut May 6 after recovering from Oct. 16, 2012 shoulder surgery.

The Braves are now carrying six relievers and three catchers: McCann, rookie phenom Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird.

Gattis hit an opposite-field grand slam on a 3-0 pitch from Minnesota’s Vance Worley on Wednesday, in the catcher’s first start in eight days. He has 10 homers, which lead major league rookies, in only 122 at-bats. Manager Fredi Gonzalez has struggled to find playing time for Gattis in the three-catcher alignment. Gattis also can play first base or left field, but those are occupied.

• The Braves lost a pair of top-notch relievers to Tommy John surgery in a six-day span. Lefty Jonny Venters, who had not appeared this season, underwent the procedure last Thursday; this was his second Tommy John surgery. Fellow southpaw Eric O'Flaherty, who had held lefty batters to a .143 average this season, underwent the elbow procedure Tuesday.

Atlanta pitchers have undergone a spate of Tommy John surgeries -- seven among major leaguers in the past five years, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The recipients: Peter Moylan (May 2008), Tim Hudson (August 2008), Kris Medlen (August 2010), Arodys Vizcaino (March 2012), Brandon Beachy (June 2012), Venters and O’Flaherty.

• The Braves have a 2.79 bullpen ERA, narrowly behind the San Francisco Giants (2.77) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2.78) for the MLB lead. Craig Kimbrel notched his 100th career save on May 9, becoming the second-youngest to reach that plateau (24 years, 348 days). Only ex-Met Francisco Rodriguez (24 years, 246 days) was younger.

• Since O’Flaherty landed on the DL, Triple-A closer Cory Rasmus was promoted. He's the younger brother of Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus. Cory made his major league debut Wednesday. The siblings’ brother Casey is a 23-year-old catcher who is hitting .300 for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Class A Peoria affiliate.

• Beachy is set to begin a rehab assignment, so Atlanta will have to create a rotation spot soon.

• Reliever Jordan Walden (shoulder) is not eligible to be activated from the DL until after the Mets series.

• With their bullpen injuries, Atlanta signed lefty reliever Joe Beimel, 36, to a minor league contract. He also is returning from Tommy John surgery.

Andrelton Simmons is the only every-day shortstop without an error.

Dan Uggla (.182, 8 HRs, 16 RBIs) is 3-for-35 with 13 strikeouts in his last 10 starts. Ramiro Pena has started two games at second base in the past week.

Julio Teheran is coming off an outing in which he allowed one run in 8 1/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins.

• Medlen limited the Los Angeles Dodgers to one run (unearned) in seven innings in his last start. The Braves are 3-6 in Medlen's starts this season. Entering this year, Atlanta had won 23 straight games started by Medlen -- the most in one pitcher’s starts in major league history.

• The Braves arrive in New York off a 6-0 homestand, during which they swept the Dodgers and Twins.

Series preview: Mets vs. Braves

August, 10, 2012
8/10/12
10:38
AM ET

Getty Images
The Braves send (l to r) Paul Maholm, Kris Medlen and Ben Sheets to the mound this weekend at Citi Field.
METS (54-58, third place/NL East) vs. ATLANTA BRAVES (64-47, second place/NL East)

Friday: RHP Matt Harvey (1-2, 3.86) vs. LHP Paul Maholm (9-7, 3.75), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: LHP Johan Santana (6-7, 3.98) vs. RHP Kris Medlen (2-1, 2.37), 7:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: LHP Jon Niese (8-6, 3.82) vs. RHP Ben Sheets (4-1, 1.41), 8:05 p.m. ET

Braves short hops

• After a deal to acquire Ryan Dempster from the Cubs unraveled (he ultimately landed in Texas) the Braves instead obtained left-hander Paul Maholm from Chicago on July 30 with outfielder Reed Johnson and cash for right-handers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.

Before the trading deadline, the Braves also acquired infielder Paul Janish from Cincinnati. That acquisition, which came during the second-half-opening series against the Mets, resulted from rookie Andrelton Simmons suffering a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal in his right hand. Atlanta also lost Jack Wilson during that Mets series, with a dislocated middle joint in his right pinkie.

Maholm lost his Braves debut Saturday despite limiting Houston to three runs in seven innings. In his final seven games (six starts) with the Cubs, the 30-year-old southpaw went 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA. The Braves have a $6.5 million team option on Maholm for 2013. Janish is hitting .198, but has only one error in 24 starts at shortstop since the deal.


Dale Zanine/US Presswire
Despite a solid season, Chipper Jones reiterated he will retire after 2012.


Chipper Jones (.316, 10 HR, 48 RBIs) recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he still intends to retire after the season, despite his success. Jones, 40, will be honored at Turner Field during Atlanta’s final regular-season home series, which fittingly is against the Mets. Atlanta makes one more visit to Flushing this season -- Sept. 7-9. Jones ranks sixth on the all-time list among switch-hitters with 2,694 hits. He trails only Pete Rose (4,256), Eddie Murray (3,255), Frankie Frisch (2,880), Omar Vizquel (2,863) and Roberto Alomar (2,724).

• A strong Cy Young candidate, closer Craig Kimbrel has 31 saves (in 33 chances), trailing only Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan (33 saves). The last closer to win the award was the Dodgers’ Eric Gagne in 2003. Kimbrel, 24, has struck out 75 and allowed only 17 hits and 11 walks in 43 innings. If he finishes at this rate, his 15.70 strikeouts per nine innings would be the second-best of any closer in a single season while producing 30-plus saves. The only better: Carlos Marmol had a 15.99 strikeout-per-nine-innings rate while amassing 38 saves with the Cubs in 2010.

• Atlanta’s bullpen tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday at Philly in relief of Tim Hudson. The relief corps has allowed 18 earned runs and struck out 110 in 102 innings over 32 games since July 3. That’s a 1.59 ERA during that span. The Braves are 64-1 when holding a lead in the seventh inning or beyond, the best winning percentage in the majors, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Ben Sheets is 4-1 with a 1.41 ERA since joining the Braves following a two-year absence from the majors while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

• Right fielder Jason Heyward turned 23 Thursday. He is one of six major leaguers to have produced at least 15 homers and 15 steals this season, joining Ryan Braun, Ian Desmond, Hanley Ramirez, Alex Rios and Mike Trout.

• The Braves have won 12 of their past 15, and 23 of 32 since July 3.

Brian McCann and David Ross have combined for 24 homers, the most in the NL from the catching position. McCann has nine homers and 22 RBIs in his past 23 games.

• Center fielder Michael Bourn is eligible for free agency after the season.

• Left-handed reliever Jonny Venters, who led the majors in relief appearances last season with 85, returned from the DL on July 21 after missing two weeks with an elbow impingement. He recently had elbow soreness surface and was given a week off, but returned to action Sunday. Lefty batters are hitting .281 against Venters this season, after hitting only .127 in 2011.

• Right-handers Tommy Hanson (lower-back strain) and Jair Jurrjens (groin strain) are on the DL. Jurrjens (6.89 ERA) had been reassigned to the bullpen before the injury.

Last series results

Altanta won, 3-0, at Turner Field, July 13-15 (AP game recaps)

Braves 7, Mets 5: It was a big day for Atlanta catcher Brian McCann, who celebrated the birth of his first child. It was also a big day for his backup, David Ross, who helped power the Braves' offense in McCann's absence. Ross homered and drove in four runs, Chipper Jones also connected and the Braves survived a crisis at shortstop to beat the Mets. The Braves had chosen to wait to replace rookie Andrelton Simmons, who broke his right little finger and will be out at least a month. Atlanta then lost shortstop Jack Wilson with another pinkie injury in the game. The Mets-killer Jones hit the 49th homer of his career against the Amazin’s, in the sixth off Josh Edgin, who was making his major league debut. More

Braves 8, Mets 7: Jason Heyward singled to cap a three-run eighth-inning rally and the Braves took advantage after the umpires reversed a call. The Braves' comeback prevented a shaky R.A. Dickey from getting his 11th win in a row. Bobby Parnell (2-2) gave up RBI singles with two outs in the eighth to Michael Bourn, Marin Prado and Heyward. Terry Collins was ejected while disputing a call in Atlanta's two-run fifth. With the score 3-all and Prado on first base with one out, Heyward hit a sinking liner that left fielder Jordany Valdespin charged. Dale Scott initially ruled Valdespin made a diving catch and Prado, who had reached second, was trapped while retreating for an apparent inning-ending double play. After the umpires conferred, they ruled Heyward's ball bounced. The umpires placed Prado on second. More

Braves 6, Mets 1: Freddie Freeman hit a three-run homer in a six-run fifth inning and Ben Sheets (1-0) allowed two hits and one walk with five strikeouts in six scoreless innings in his first start since July 19, 2010. Johan Santana (6-6) gave up eight hits, six runs, two walks and struck out three in five innings. Dan Warthen was ejected during a mound visit. When plate umpire C.B. Bucknor reached the mound, Warthen began arguing with him over the strike zone afforded Santana. More

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.287 7 38 57
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 15
RBID. Wright 51
RD. Murphy 57
OPSL. Duda .840
WB. Colon 9
ERAJ. Niese 3.13
SOZ. Wheeler 112