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The Atlanta Braves Stake Their Claim As the Hottest Team in the NL East

Joel Barker@joelabarkerSenior Writer IMay 12, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 11:  Casey Kotchman #22 of the Atlanta Braves runs to first base after his seventh inning two run single against the New York Mets on May 11, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

So who is the hottest team in the NL East?

Before tonight many writers, personalities, and fans would have said the Mets.

And I might have agreed. With seven straight wins and Johan Santana going tonight, I can think of no one that would disagree with that sentiment.

That is, until those upstart Braves came into town.

The Braves have easily been the East's second hottest team, since leaving Atlanta for the road last week.

On Monday night, they became the hottest with a 8-3 win in Queens.

Having taken four of five from the Marlins and Phillies, the Braves rolled into New York's first soccer stadium (sounded very cavernous to me) and took game one of this three game series from the Mets and their ace, Johan Santana.

Many Mets fans will point to the seventh inning Jose Reyes error as the cause. And to a certain extent they'd be right.

But it was still one of the best situational lefties in the game that gave up hits to Matt Diaz and Casey Kotchman, after that error that plated runs two, three, four, and five.

Derek Lowe and Santana went after it for six-plus innings. It was a pitcher's dual, until Santana almost walked Lowe and then gave up a hit to Kelly Johnson in the seventh.

Yunel Escobar continued his hot streak with a three for four night, scoring two runs and knocking one in.

Matt Diaz was also three for four, with one of the clutch hits in the seventh.

Casey Kotchman continued his recent tear with a two-run single in the seventh.

The Braves are in a great position to make some more early season noise during the next two days in New York.

This road trip, which is just one week ago seemed destined to send the Braves reeling in mid-May, has quickly turned into a chance to force the prognosticators to add the Braves to the NL East equation along with the Phillies and the Mets.

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