(Sports Network) - Jason Heyward has been making his National League Rookie of the Year case all season long. However, he is just one youngster on the Braves roster that is trying to get the club back into the postseason.
Another, Mike Minor, will try to do his part and win a third straight start this evening when Atlanta aims to extend its recent home dominance of the New York Mets in the second contest of a four-game series at Turner Field.
Heyward is batting .278 on the season with 16 homers and 62 RBI following a big game in Monday night's 9-3 series-opening win. The 21-year-old matched career highs with four hits and four runs batted in, blasting a three-run homer while also scoring three runs.
"It's a nice way to start off the series against anybody," said Heyward. "We need to win as many games as we can. It's a great way to go. It was a good one for us and it was big right there."
Jair Jurrjens got the win with 5 2/3 innings of three-run ball, helping the first-place Braves push their edge over the Phillies in the NL East to three games. Philadelphia lost to Los Angeles on Monday.
Josh Thole, Luis Hernandez and Angel Pagan each drove in a run for the Mets, who began a 10-game road trip with their fourth loss in six games. New York has also now dropped 10 of its past 13 at Turner Field and has split 12 games so far this year with Atlanta.
"We gave ourselves a chance, to say the least," said Thole. "It's one of those things where we have to come back [Tuesday] and be ready to fight. Offensively, we're fighting and the pitching staff is doing the same right now."
Hoping to extend the Mets' struggles tonight will be Minor, who has posted consecutive wins since getting a no-decision in his MLB debut on Aug. 9 and faces New York for the first time.
Atlanta has given Minor plenty of support over his modest win streak, scoring 26 runs. The 22-year-old lefty bested the Cubs on Sunday, allowing three runs over six innings of a 16-5 triumph while also striking out 12 batters, matching a Braves franchise rookie record. Minor also recorded the most strikeouts by a rookie since the club relocated from Milwaukee to Atlanta.
"I thought he was just outstanding," Braves manager Bobby Cox told the Braves' website of Minor. "He was pretty much dealing."
The Mets counter with Jon Niese, who after allowing just a single run in each of his previous four starts, a span in which he went 1-0, was drilled for seven runs over 5 2/3 innings of a loss to the Marlins on Thursday. The lefty fell to 8-6 with a 3.63 earned run average in 24 starts this year.
Niese, 23, is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts versus the Braves. He faced them at home on April 24 and did not factor into the decision of that 3-1 win after giving up a run on five hits and five walks over 5 1/3 frames.