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New York Mets welcome change of scenery, trip to meet Atlanta Braves

By
Guy Curtright, The Sports Xchange
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz clears his eyes as he waits for manager Brian Snitker to walk to the mound to remove him from the game in the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 11, 2017 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz clears his eyes as he waits for manager Brian Snitker to walk to the mound to remove him from the game in the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 11, 2017 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves, who have played the most road games in the majors, are glad to finally be able to get some time at home.

The Braves' appreciation of a lengthy stretch in Atlanta is nothing compared with the New York Mets' thankfulness about hitting the road, though.

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The Mets, who begin a two-game series at SunTrust Park on Tuesday night, had lost 10 straight at home before snapping their eight-game overall losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday night.

The Mets (28-34) have been in a free fall since starting the season 11-1 and hope to get things back on track away from the pressures of New York during a 10-game road trip.

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"I think we're a lot better team than how we're playing," said Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler, who will start the series opener against fellow right-hander Mike Foltynewicz of the Braves. "I've said that before and I'll keep saying it."

The Braves (37-28) are in a virtual tie for the National League East lead with Washington (36-27) despite going 2-4 against San Diego and the Los Angeles Dodgers during a road trip that concluded Sunday. They lead the fourth-place Mets by 7 1/2 games.

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Atlanta is 7-3 against New York this season and is off to its surprising start thanks to a 25-14 record against the rest of the NL East.

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The Braves have played just 28 home games, but they have 12 of their next 14 at SunTrust Park.

Foltynewicz (5-4, 2.31 ERA) had the best game of his career in his most recent start in Atlanta, pitching a two-hit shutout against the Nationals on June 1 while striking out 11 and walking one.

"When he is locked in, he can be a top pitcher," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said afterward. "He has electric stuff. Now he has to keep putting it together."

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Foltynewicz was 3-1 with a 0.56 ERA in a five-start stretch after blanking Washington, but he struggled with location through five innings in a loss at San Diego on Wednesday to show that his consistency isn't quite there yet.

Wheeler (2-4, 4.57 ERA) allowed just three hits in seven scoreless innings against Baltimore on Wednesday in New York, but he got a no-decision in the loss.

The Mets scored one run while being swept in a three-game series by the Orioles and scored only 12 runs in the 1-8 homestand.

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Wheeler missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons after Tommy John elbow surgery and will be facing the Braves for the first time since he threw six scoreless innings against them at old Turner Field on Sept. 19, 2014, to improve to 4-2 with a 2.94 ERA in eight career starts against his hometown team.

A product of the Atlanta suburbs, Wheeler was scheduled to pitch at SunTrust Park last year and again this April before both games were rained out.

Wheeler started the season in the minors, but he has three quality starts in his last four outings, posting a 2.52 ERA during that stretch.

Despite the loss at San Diego, Foltynewicz has a 0.97 ERA in his past six starts and opponents have batted only .167 during that stretch.

"I feel good about where I am," said Foltynewicz, who is looking for his first success against the Mets.

Foltynewicz is 0-1 with a 10.45 ERA in two career starts and one relief appearance versus New York.

The Mets released veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez after Sunday's win over the Yankees and called up Dominic Smith from Triple-A Las Vegas.

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Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had a setback in his rehab, so he won't be available against the Braves, but at least Wheeler gives the Mets an extra bat in the lineup. His .286 average is second among NL pitchers.

"We're at the point of the season where we need to start winning some games," Wheeler said.

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