After splitting the first six games on their 9-game road trip, the New York Mets sit at 5-7 on the season, the same distance below .500 as they did at this time last week. However, due to a slide that the Miami Marlins are on, the Mets were able to achieve one of the goals set for them in Volume 1 – The Mets are out of the National League East Cellar. The Mets got a rare series victory in Atlanta, taking two of three from the Braves before reversing that in a series loss to the Angels.
At this time last week, the NL East Standings looked like this…
Atlanta (4-2 .5 GB)
Washington (4-2 .5 GB)
Philadelphia (3-3 1.5 GB)
New York ( 2-4 2.5 GB)
Here is how the NL East looks today…
Washington (7-5 1 GB)
Philadelphia (6-6 2 GB)
New York (5-7 3 GB)
Miami (5-8 3.5 GB)
The Atlanta Braves followed up a 4-2 week with a second straight week with the same record and sit in first place in the division at 8-4. Atlanta lost two of three at home to the Mets before sweeping the Washington Nationals in a three game series at Turner Field. In two series against the Nats this season, the Braves are 5-1 against the team favored to win the division when it is all said and done. Justin Upton picked up some steam this week batting .591 with 4 home runs and 8 RBI in the six games, including a slugging percentage of 1.227. On the mound Aaron Harang has been nearly unhittable. He pitched 12 innings this week over two games and gave up a total of 2 runs on 7 hits. He gave up one run in what would be a 4-0 loss to the Mets and followed that up with one run in a 10-2 victory over the Nationals. The Braves will play seven road games this week with four in Philadelphia before heading up I-95 for a three-game weekend series at Citi Field against the Mets.
The Washington Nationals had an up-and-down week, sweeping a series from the Miami Marlins before being swept in Atlanta. Bryce Harper swung the bat well, to the tune of a .476 batting average. Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with a thumb injury. Zimmerman had been playing through a shoulder injury for the better part of the week as well. Stephen Strasburg battled back and picked up a win in his lone start this week, going 6.2 innings while giving up one run on three hits against the Fish. He racked up 12 strikeouts and lowered his season ERA to 4.24. The Nationals will take on the Marlins for three games in Miami before returning home for four games against the defending NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Much like the Nationals, the Philadelphia Phillies saw highs and lows this week. After dropping three straight to the Milwaukee Brewers to open up the 10th season at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies welcomed in the reeling Marlins and took three straight from them. Chase Utley is as hot at the plate as anybody right now. In the last week, Utley hit .563 with a home run and 4 RBI, totaling 15 bases on his 9 hits. He currently leads all of Major League Baseball with a .500 batting average. The Phillies pitching staff had an interesting week as all three victories were from the bullpen with Jonathan Papelbon notching two saves. The Phillies welcome the Braves for four games at the Bank before heading to Colorado for three with the Rockies. That begins a 10-game swing out west.
The Miami Marlins had as bad a week as you could get, completing the First-to-Worst campaign in just seven days. Including a loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday April 6, Miami has lost seven straight games following sweeps in Washington and Philadelphia. Lead-off hitter Christian Yelich hit .364 on the week while Giancarlo Stanton struggled with a .231 average. Stanton still showed power, however, as two of his six hits this week went over the fence. Pitching phenom Jose Fernandez struggled in Philly over the weekend, giving up 6 runs in four innings. He gave up 8 hits and walked 4 in the outing. The Marlins will have three games at home against the Nationals and then welcome in the Seattle Mariners for 3 games following an off-day on Thursday.
The Mets finish up their 9-game road trip with three in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. Following an off day on Thursday the Mets welcome in the Atlanta Braves for three this weekend at Citi Field. The bullpen put together a string of 20 consecutive scoreless innings before hitting some rough spots in Los Angeles. The Mets will need more from the starters, who are averaging only 6 innings per outing. It would also be nice if the middle of the lineup would start producing as well.