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National League Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, April 8th (All times Eastern)
New York Mets (2-4) at Atlanta Braves (4-2), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: New York - Bartolo Colon (0-1, 4.50) Atlanta - Aaron Harang (1-0, 0.00)
(SportsNetwork.com) - Aaron Harang will face his former club as the Atlanta Braves play their home opener at Turner Field against the New York Mets on Tuesday evening.
Not only will the Braves be playing their first home game, but the team will also commemorate the 40-year anniversary of Hank Aaron's 715th home run in a pregame ceremony.
It was April 8, 1974 in old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium that Aaron moved past Babe Ruth when he went deep against the Dodgers' Al Downing.
"It means an awful lot to me," the 80-year-old Aaron said. "I'm not one to go around bragging about certain things. I played the game because I loved the game. ... I am quite thrilled that people say that he, whatever he did, should be appreciated. That makes me feel good."
Harang, who was signed in late March to provide depth for the Braves' injury- filled staff, was sensational in his debut with the team. The veteran right- hander limited the Brewers to just two hits and no runs over 6 2/3 innings of work on Wednesday.
"I was just able to come out and keep them off balance and keep their team guessing," said Harang. "And obviously, you see their guy throwing up numbers like that, you're trying to do the same thing and give your team a chance to win. I was able to do that and we came out with a victory."
Harang made four starts for the Mets last season.
The Mets, meanwhile, will be playing their first of a nine-game road trip with the veteran Bartolo Colon on the hill. Colon, who went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA last season for Oakland, surrendered nine hits and three runs in six innings on Wednesday versus Washington. The 41-year old right-hander gave up two home runs and struck out only four batters in his Mets' debut.
"What you saw today is not his best stuff," manager Terry Collins said, and Colon later agreed with that assessment. "I never saw, in the last few years, Bartolo pitch up so much. His ball just didn't have the depth it normally has."
New York came up just short of a three-game sweep of Cincinnati on Sunday. The Mets took a 1-0 lead when Ike Davis, who hit a walk-off grand slam on Saturday, scored on a Juan Lagares's single to left field. However, New York failed to produce any more runs the rest of the way while the Reds scored two in the sixth.
Lagares has been a bright spot in the Mets' lineup, batting .350 with a team- high 14 total bases. David Wright has managed just five singles in 21 at-bats, while Curtis Granderson is hitting a mere .167 with eight strike outs in 24 appearances at the plate. As a result, New York is ranked 30th in the MLB in both batting average (.178) and on-base percentage (.251).
Atlanta is also hoping to improve at the plate as well, as it ranks just 24th in batting average (.221) and 27th in on-base percentage (.271).
"We're still waiting to explode offensively," second baseman Dan Uggla said. "But we've proven last year, and years past, what kind of players we are. Our pitching and our bullpen has been great. We've been getting enough done. We haven't really been lighting it up offensively."
The Braves were defeated, 2-1, by the Nationals on Sunday in the finale of their sixth-straight road game to begin the year. Atlanta's pitching staff has not given up more than two runs in a game through six outings.
First baseman Freddie Freeman has been Atlanta's most productive batter by far, batting .421 with two home runs and six walks. Uggla, Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Evan Gattis are all off to poor starts. Heyward is just 3-for-23 with eight strikeouts, while Upton is 3-for-25 with 11 strikeouts. Gattis missed the past two games due to illness, but it hopeful to return to action on Tuesday.
Upton is 7-for-23 with a home run, triple and double versus Colon in his career. Colon is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA at Turner Field.
Atlanta was 10-9 against the Mets last season.
04/08 13:36:16 ET