Found April 18, 2012 on The Daily Stache:

Good morning and welcome to another wild day of Mets baseball. Last night Johan Santana got shelled and New York ended up losing to Atlanta 9-3. Fortunately, the opportunity to get over the loss has come quickly, as today’s game begins at 12:10 PM. Daytime baseball!

Mets Lineup
1. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF
2. Daniel Murphy, 2B
3. David Wright, 3B
4. Ike Davis, 1B
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Lucas Duda, RF
7. Josh Thole, C
8. Ronny Cedeno, SS
9. R.A. Dickey, RHP

With Ruben Tejada being given a much deserved day off, Ronny Cedeno takes over at shortstop for the day, while young Kirk Nieuwenhuis moves up to the lead-off spot in the lineup. Nieuwenhuis has hit safely in five straight games and last night went 2 for 4 to raise his averages to .321/.387/.429 despite 10 strikeouts on the season.

Atlanta Braves Lineup
1. Michael Bourn, CF
2. Martin Prado, LF
3. Jason Heyward, RF
4. Dan Uggla, 2B
5. Freddie Freeman, 1B
6. Juan Francisco, 3B
7. David Ross, C
8. Tyler Pastornicky, SS
9. Jair Jurrjens, RHP

After last year’s sophomore slump, Jason Heyward has started the 2012 season on a tear. He’s hitting .361/.439/.611 so far and will bat third today with Chipper Jones and Brian McCann on the bench. In David Ross, the Braves have the luxury of a backup catcher who can really hit. Last season, Ross hit .263/.333/.428 in 152 at-bats, and in 2010 he ripped an awesome .289/.392/.479 in 121 at-bats. Don’t take the man lightly.

Pitching Match-up
For the Mets, R.A. Dickey is back on the hill after a decent first two starts of the season. After having to battle for six innings against these Braves in the second game of the season, Dickey was much more comfortable last Friday night in Philadelphia, when he struck out seven batters while walking just one. Between both starts, Dickey has 10 strikeouts and five walks in 13 innings while allowing three runs and two home runs.

Jair Jurrjens of the Braves can’t be having too much much fun so far this season. Sure, he’s playing baseball for a living, but in doing so, he’s allowed four home runs in just over nine innings of work. Jurrjens is a fly ball pitcher and will give up home runs from time to time, but four in two games is way too much. In his last start against Milwaukee, Jurrjens gave up five runs in five innings with three strikeouts and three walks. Jurrjens this season will almost certainly have a higher ERA than last season’s 2.96, but he won’t be this bad for long, so the Mets should try to take advantage while he’s still rounding into form.

Stache Keys to the Game

  1. Wright is hot — And not just in a superficial way anymore! The Mets star third baseman has reached base at least twice in eight straight games. That’s the longest stretch to start a season in Mets history. Wright’s .517 OBP and .724 slugging percentage have helped make up for cold starts from Davis and Duda.
  2. R.A. is quality — Dickey has rolled off 14 straight quality starts since last July 25, so the Mets are unlikely to get blown out for the second night in a row. The amazing consistency of Dickey is even more impressive because he throws a knuckleball — a pitch notorious for its inconsistency and unpredictability.
  3. Fun on the road — The Mets have not won their first two road series of the season since 2002, but they have a chance to do that today. Getting wins in Philly and Atlanta has rarely been easy for the Mets, so a win today would provide a little extra morale boost.
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