The Mets hope to avoid their first 0-4 start in 41 years as they open a three-game series with the perennial NL East champions at Turner Field.
New York failed to get an extra-base hit in a 6-1 loss at Cincinnati on Thursday, completing a season-opening three-game sweep to the Reds.
First-year manager Willie Randolph remained winless after three games, but isn’t about to panic about his team’s slow start.
“Well, I don’t make too much of anything,” he said. “It’s early in the season. We got swept. We go to Atlanta and try to change the pace a little bit. I don’t get excited about a few games either way. We’ve got a long way to go.”
New York hasn’t stumbled this badly at the start of a season since it dropped its first four games in 1964—Casey Stengel’s third year managing a fledgling club that redefined losing. The Mets dropped their first nine games in their inaugural 1962 campaign on their way to a standard-setting 120 losses.
This year’s poor start is somewhat surprising considering the moves New York made in the offseason. The Mets committed $172 million to Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. Their $105 million payroll is the NL’s largest and ranks third overall, trailing only the Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
“I don’t think anybody coming out of spring training expected this,” said New York first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who was acquired in the offseason from Boston. “We didn’t play well.”
The Braves, winners of 13 consecutive division titles, are back into their customary spot atop the East after taking two of three from the Florida Marlins. Tim Hudson allowed one run and six hits over five innings to earn his first win with Atlanta as the Braves beat the Marlins 4-2 on Thursday.
The Braves turned six double plays and closer Dan Kolb pitched the ninth for his second save.
Atlanta will send right-hander John Thomson to the mound Friday for the home opener against the Mets.
Thomson’s first season with the Braves was the best of his career. The right-hander went 14-8 with 3.72 ERA in 33 starts in 2004. Thomson, who pitched for New York in 2002, went 3-0 with 20 strikeouts and a 1.67 ERA in four starts against the Mets last season.