When is a two-game sweep a big deal?  When it’s the Mets conquering their long-standing nemesis of Turner Field and winning twice in Atlanta.

In 2008 the Mets finished three games behind the Phillies.  There have been many reasons given for this, from the club’s poor start to failure to hit in the clutch to the meltdowns from the bullpen.  All of those played a factor for sure but there is one big reason that was ignored by most people.

The Atlanta Braves and how they played versus the top two clubs.

Last year the Braves finished 72-90 and fourth place in the National League East, 20 games behind the Phillies.  That’s a .444 percentage.  Against the Phillies they were 4-14 (.222) with a 5.58 ERA and a 1.582 WHIP.  Meanwhile, against the Mets, the Braves were 11-7 (.611) with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.350 WHIP.

If the Braves played equally well against the Mets and Phillies, the Mets would have won the division by four games.  As if it was not bad enough for the Braves to win the NL East for 11 straight seasons, they still manage to torment the Mets even when they stink.  It is annoying that they played so well against the Mets but the thing that really sticks in my craw is how they laid down and died versus the Phillies.

So, it was particularly rewarding to go into Atlanta and sweep a two-game series.  Especially given that the second game was pitched by much-maligned Livan Hernandez, who came into the game with a 3-15 lifetime mark against the Braves and just 1-7 at Turner Field.

Hernandez pitched 6.1 innings and gave up just one run.  For all of the grief everyone has given Livan, he has two quality starts and has given the team a chance to win in four of his five outings.  May his smoke and mirrors act produce similar results the rest of the season.

But now back to the Braves.  In Turner Field, the Mets went 1-8 last year, making the 2-0 start in 2009 an improvement already.  Coming into the 2009 season, the Mets were 32-66 at the House of Horrors known as Turner Field.  When the Mets won the division in 2006, they were 6-3 at the Ted and 11-7 overall versus the Braves.

So, despite another poor start, the Mets are only 2.5 games behind the first-place Phillies and the start an eight-game homestand with a two-game set against Philadelphia.  The first matchup features Johan Santana versus Chan Ho Park.  Call me crazy but I like the team’s chances tonight.

So, despite the less-than-glamorous results from the non-Santana pitchers, the dreadful defense from three positions and the return of poor hitting in the clutch, the Mets stand a decent chance of being only one-half game out of first place heading into a weekend series against the Pirates.

There’s nothing like beating the Braves to put some optimism into the fan base.  Hopefully the Mets will add to the early 2-0 streak, as they finish the homestand with a three-game set against Atlanta.

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