After allowing the dust to settle and the smoke to clear on the hoopla that was Tom Glavine’s 300th career victory, the Mets now have a far more significant matter at hand. With the milestone put in the rear view mirror, the focus is squarely set on the Atlanta Braves. They head to Flushing this week for perhaps the teams most important battle of the season. With eight grueling weeks remaining, the race for the Eastern Division crown is molded to be closer than anticipated.
The Mets have sat a top the standings as the cream of the Eastern division for every pitch in this 2007 campaign and have pulled out to a four and a half game cushion .Tuesday night at Shea, the Amazin’s have a chance to stifle the trade deadline acquisitions by John Shuerholtz, and perhaps effectively end any hope the Braves have at recapturing the thrown that they had once held for well over a decade.
In contrast, Atlanta can creep as close as a game and a half behind the top spot in the division with a series sweep. Though it is not likely, a bold statement must be sent to the boys from the south, seeing as the Braves have emerged victorious in each of the three previous series meetings this season, taking two of three games in each set. Bringing slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira on board, along with Andruw Jones seemingly once again becoming a dangerous presence, they are certainly equipped with a lineup to wear out any pitching staff in the game today.
In spite of losing six of nine to the arch enemy, the three victories the Mets have salvaged have all occurred with south paw Oliver Perez (10-7; 3.00 ERA) on the hill. He will take the ball in the series opener, hoping to once again obtain yet another “big” game win, a feat in which he has excelled at during his tenure in New York. Though to be dubbed the best, you must take care of business against the best. That is indeed what the Mets must accomplish in the final two games, as Atlanta will be throwing Ace 1A and 1B in John Smoltz (10-6; 3.04 ERA) and in the finale Tim Hudson( 12-5; 2.95 ERA).
When an opportunity presents it self to bury the competition, you must possess the will to want it more, and leave your blood, sweat and tears out on the diamond. This week, many vital questions pertaining to the Eastern division will be answered with wins and losses. We will learn whether or not the Braves will indeed lay to rest, or if the dog days of summer will provide a nail biting race for the division championship