200 Miles From the Citi

July 8, 2010 8:16 PM

Rivalry Renewed


I know teams aren't supposed to admit they get geared up for some regular season series more than others.

And in recent years, the Phillies have probably surpassed the Braves in terms of rivalries with the Mets.

But this weekend is about as important a series with Atlanta as the Mets have had in years.

And they'd better treat it as such.

They've already lined up their pitching so that they take three pretty good shots at the Braves.  Jonathan Niese is about the only arm you'd rather have in there, but he pitched Wednesday night:

Friday features R.A. Dickey against Tommy Hanson.  Saturday is Mike Pelfrey and Tim Hudson.  And Sunday is Johan Santana versus Derek Lowe.  Hisanori Takahashi has returned to the bullpen for the weekend, since he made his last start before the break.  And the Mets should have all arms available, including Jonathan Niese, who should be available in some form at least on Saturday out of the bullpen, as they head into the break.

The flexibility with the Mets' pitchers might allow for them to make a move before the weekend series to bring a bat to the bench, where they've been short-handed after Fernando Tatis was placed on the DL this week.  (A commentary more on the weakness of the Mets bench than it is a positive comment on Tatis.  I think this DL stint is addition by subtraction.)  Henry Blanco is the lone right-handed bat off the bench (or Rod Barajas, depending on who starts).  And I hope they do make a move because they should go into this series firing on all cylinders.

After the break, the Mets have a tough trip out west, while the Braves start with four against the Brewers.  This is a great opportunity for the Mets - a three game series with the Mets trailing the Braves by three games.

These are easily the biggest games with the Braves in five years.  And the difference between now and then is that those Braves had an aura of invincibility, especially when it came to the Mets.  This year, the Braves are 20-25 on the road, only slightly better than the Mets' road record.

And that already includes an 0-3 record at Citi Field.  The Mets are 4-1 against the Braves so far this season.

It's a renewal of a stalled rivalry.  It'd be nice if this time around it's the Mets that take on the aura of invincibility.

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