The third-place Atlanta Braves hope to chop a few games off their National League East deficit when they host the first-place New York Mets in a three-game series that begins Tuesday.
The Mets lost 8-4 to the host Washington Nationals on Monday, a one-game makeup game to begin a seven-game road trip. New York, despite going 4-7 over the past 11 games, has led the division since May 8, its longest streak on top since the end of the 2015 season.
Atlanta, the division champion the past three seasons, is coming off a four-game split at Cincinnati. The Braves, who are 5-5 over their past 10 games, split a four-game set in New York a week ago.
The Mets are 5-3 against the Braves this season.
The pitching matchup for the series opener is Atlanta’s Charlie Morton (7-3, 3.68 ERA) vs. New York’s Tylor Megill (0-0, 4.15).
Morton has been very good in June, going 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts. He has not allowed a run in his past two starts, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless against St. Louis on June 17 and blanking the Mets for seven innings, allowing only one hit, on June 22. He struck out 11 against New York and earned his 100th career victory.
The 37-year-old right-hander said, “I’ve had four surgeries, I’ve missed a lot of time to injury, I’ve dealt with numerous failures, had so many opportunities that were given to me that probably weren’t given to other guys in my situation. The long and short of it’s been such an awesome experience, not only the successes but the failures. And to still be here and be on a great team and have a chance to go to the playoffs again — just really fortunate.”
Morton will be making his 11th career appearance, 10th start, vs. the Mets, against whom he is 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA. This season, he is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA against New York.
Megill was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday and made his major league debut against the Braves that day. He worked 4 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts in a game the Mets won 7-3.
“It was exciting. It was fun. It was competitive,” Megill said. “Couldn’t ask for anything more while I was out there. I wanted to go full force and just go out there and make a statement and help our team win.”
Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman drove in his 900th run on Friday and is three away from 900 for his career. Since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, only five Braves have scored 900 and driven in 900 for the club: Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Eddie Mathews and Dale Murphy.
Freeman went a combined 1-for-7 the past two games after a three-game stretch in which he collected eight hits.
New York first baseman Pete Alonso is rounding into form. He was 2-for-3 and hit his 12th home run on Monday. Eleven of his home runs have come on the road.
Alonso has reached safely in 24 of his past 27 starts. He is hitting .306 (30-for-98) with six homers, 19 RBIs and 11 runs in 28 games since being activated from the injured list on May 31.
–Field Level Media