The Atlanta Braves open a three-game home series Friday against the New York Mets with no hope of reaching the playoffs, but in Ozzie Albies they have indications better times may be coming soon. The rookie second baseman extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a two-run homer in Thursday’s 5-2 defeat at Washington, giving Albies a .346 batting average in his past 27 games as he and his teammates look to contend in 2018.
The Braves come home having won six of their past eight games, and saw center fielder Ender Inciarte - who is 13 hits shy of 200 for the season - return to the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game with a minor thumb injury. The Mets have dropped four games in a row and are just 4-13 in their past 17 road games after Thursday’s 14-6 drubbing at the Chicago Cubs, losing shortstop Amed Rosario to a hip flexor injury in the process. Travis d’Arnaud (who left with a twisted right knee in the fifth inning) and Dominic Smith homered for New York, which has established a franchise record with 116 long balls in road contests this season, and are seven homers away from matching the franchise’s single-season record of 218 established in 2016. Smith has been one of the Mets’ best hitters this month, collecting three doubles, four homers, 11 RBIs and four walks in 13 games.
TV: 7:35 p.m. ET, SNY (New York), FSN South (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets RH Rafael Montero (5-9, 5.05 ERA) vs. Braves LH Sean Newcomb (2-8, 4.38)
Montero has settled into New York’s rotation in the second half of the season, winning for the fourth time in his past five decisions after holding Cincinnati to one run on four hits over five innings Saturday. Montero, who has 15 starts and 15 relief appearances on the season, has won three consecutive starts while posting a 2.41 ERA and .194 opponents’ batting average. He has made four career appearances against the Braves, all in relief, taking the loss on April 5 after allowing two runs in 1 2/3 innings.
Newcomb has won just once in his past 12 starts after receiving a no-decision in his last outing Sept. 7 against Miami, giving up three runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts across five innings. He made his major-league debut against the Mets on June 10, striking out seven while allowing an unearned run on four hits over 6 1/3 innings. Newcomb posted a 7.61 ERA in July but lowered that number to 4.02 in six August starts.
1. New York SS Jose Reyes is batting .366 in his past 20 games with 22 runs scored and 12 RBIs.
2. Atlanta C Kurt Suzuki brings a five-game hitting streak into the weekend, and is second on the Braves in homers since July 1 with 11.
3. The Mets lead the season series 7-5, but the two teams have not played since June 11.
PREDICTION: Braves 5, Mets 3