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May 2, 2022 3:00 am

High-flying Mets open series vs. reigning champion Braves

The last time the Braves visited the Mets, Atlanta left town five games back of first-place New York.

When the Braves return to New York on Monday, they again will be in pursuit of the Mets — but that’ll be the only similarity between now and then as the longtime National League East rivals prepare for a four-game series.

Left-hander Max Fried (2-2, 3.00 ERA) is scheduled to start for Atlanta against New York right-hander Chris Bassitt (3-1, 2.25 ERA).

The Braves are continuing a seven-game road trip after falling 7-3 on Sunday afternoon in the rubber game of a three-game series against the Texas Rangers 7-3.

The Mets extended their franchise-record, season-opening streak of series wins to seven by beating the visiting Philadelphia Phillies 10-6 on Sunday night.

The latest results dropped the Braves six games behind the NL East-leading Mets. Of course, no one needs to remind Atlanta that large deficits in May — or July — aren’t necessarily a barometer for the rest of the season.

The Braves were 51-53 following a 6-3 win in the teams’ final meeting of last season at New York on July 29. However, Atlanta went 37-20 the rest of the way and won the NL East before capturing the franchise’s first World Series title since 1995.

New York went 22-38 down the stretch to finish in third place at 77-85, 11 1/2 games out of first place.

The new-look Braves — with Matt Olson manning first base instead of stalwart Freddie Freeman, who hit .293 with nine homers and 50 RBIs in 99 games at Citi Field — will meet the Mets fresh off an opening month in which New York showed it is a much different team than a year ago.

“There’s definitely going to be, I would say, a sense of urgency,” Braves third baseman Austin Riley said. “It’s the Mets. They’re hot. That’s a big rivalry there.”

At 16-7, New York is already close to tying last season’s high mark of 11 games over .500. And the seven straight series wins have come with an impressive totality and a bit of an edge from the Mets, who lead the majors in being hit by pitches and had a benches-clearing fracas with the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

The Mets rank first in the majors in on-base percentage (.344), second in batting average (.262) and third in ERA (2.99).

“It’s pretty fantastic — it’s been a lot of fun so far,” said Jeff McNeil, who tied a career high with four hits Sunday night. “This team’s playing great baseball, kind of doing everything right, winning series. Keep doing that, I like where we’ll be at the end of the year.”

Both Fried and Bassitt earned the wins in their most recent starts on Tuesday, when Fried allowed one run over six innings as the Braves beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 and Bassitt tossed six scoreless innings in the Mets’ 3-0 victory over the Cardinals.

Fried is 4-3 with a 2.78 ERA in 16 career games (11 starts) against the Mets. Bassitt has never faced the Braves.

–Field Level Media

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