One of the most satisfying things about the 2006 season was that it seemed like the Mets had turned the tide against the Braves. Instead of going to Atlanta and getting beat, and having the Braves come to Shea and whipping them, it looked like the Mets were going to even the record a little bit.
It's now looking like last year was more of an aberration than a rule, as the Mets are now 4-8 on the season against Atlanta, dropping two out of three in each of the four series the two teams have played.
If you're looking for signs of encouragement, the games haven't been one-sided. The Mets have had a chance in almost all of them. But the fact is, they've come out behind more often than on top, and that could end up being a problem.
I honestly believe the Mets will win the division, and that their losses to Atlanta will end up giving the Braves nothing more than a little false hope. But you can't avoid the fact that these games with Atlanta are big, and could be previews of October baseball...and if that's the case, the Mets will not fare well.
Thursday's afternoon game was more of the same against the Braves this year - the Mets jumped out to an early lead, blew it (another rocky start for John Maine - one thing about him - he has these bad stretches of two or three bad starts, then comes back and is lights-out...I'd be interested to see how well he pitches very soon), then rallied at the end and came up just short.
Now, I must admit, I fell asleep and missed the very end of Thursday's game, but apparently Willie Harris robbed Carlos Delgado of a game-tying home run in the ninth inning. So, a little more luck, and the Mets could have won this game. Again, that's the encouraging thing - it's not like the Mets haven't been in these games. They also blew their opportunities early on Thursday - they ended the first inning up 1-0 against Tim Hudson, but it could have been a lot more.
Bottom line - these games against the Braves, and the Mets' lack of success therein, aren't the end of the world. But they could be one of the signs that the end could arrive sooner than we fans had hoped.