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Preview: Mets (79-61) at Braves (56-85)
Venue: Turner Field
Date: September 11, 2015 7:35 PM EDT
The New York Mets have built their biggest lead of the season in the NL East. There’s little reason to believe it won’t have a chance to grow against the woeful Atlanta Braves.
Steven Matz looks to shake off any lingering effects of a blister and help the Mets send the Braves to a franchise-record home losing streak Friday night.
New York (79-61) leads the division by 7 1/2 games over Washington after sweeping a three-game series in the nation’s capital earlier this week.
The Mets opened this four-game set with Thursday’s 7-2 victory over the Braves (56-85), who have lost nine straight at home to tie their single-season record from 1988 when they opened 0-9 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
Matz (2-0, 1.89 ERA) takes the ball for the first time since a blister on his middle finger forced him to leave in the sixth inning in Sunday’s 4-3 loss at Miami. The left-hander allowed two runs with six strikeouts in his first start in two months due to a partially torn lat muscle.
“I think we caught it before it got too bad,” Matz said. “I used to get it a lot in 2013 when I pitched in (Class-A) Savannah and it was really humid. I guess your skin just softens up when it gets humid.”
Matz, who is facing the Braves for the first time, is trying to make a case for a spot in the postseason rotation.
Matt Wisler’s sights are set on making next season’s rotation with Atlanta. The rookie right-hander, though, is 0-5 with a 9.49 ERA over his last seven starts. He was hammered for seven runs in 1 2-3 innings of a 15-1 loss at Washington in his most recent one Sept. 3.
Wisler (5-6, 5.81) was unexpectedly used out of the bullpen in the series finale Sunday and responded with two scoreless innings.
The Braves, losers of 21 of 24, were encouraged by Wisler’s aggressiveness.
“I really like the way he responded,” manager Fredi Gonzalez told MLB’s official website. “He looked totally different in those two innings. He pounded the strike zone and got some ground balls.
“I like the character that man showed after just (three) short days ago, he doesn’t even get out of the second. Then to run him back out against the same team, I liked what I saw.”
Wisler allowed one run in eight innings of a 2-1 win over the Mets in his major league debut June 19. However, he had a tough time with Michael Cuddyer, who went 2 for 3.
Cuddyer is expected to be back in the lineup after missing seven games with discomfort in his right wrist. He’s hitting .459 in his last 14 road games.
David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud will face Wisler for the first time after they got a day off Thursday. Wright has a .404 average in his last 13 meetings with the Braves, going 5 for 12 in three this year – all in Atlanta.
D’Arnaud has homered on two of his three hits while driving in five runs in his last two meetings with the Braves. He enters this matchup batting .440 with two homers and seven RBIs in his last eight games.
The Mets have won 12 of 14 on the road but are still 34-37 there.