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(AP) — Fast starts had been routine for the Atlanta Braves over the past few seasons, while disastrous beginnings had been the norm for the Houston Astros.
When these teams meet Monday night in Houston, it’ll be the Astros looking to build on an encouraging start while the Braves try to avoid opening 0-4 for the first time in nearly a quarter-century.
After taking two of three in its season-opening series each of the last three years, Atlanta arrives in Houston after being swept in a three-game set by the New York Mets. It’s an ominous start for the Braves after they collapsed down the stretch last year.
“It’s never good to come into the season and get swept,” catcher Brian McCann said. “Nobody in here is thinking about last year.”
The Braves totaled seven runs, 14 hits and 25 strikeouts at Citi Field in opening with three consecutive losses for the first time since 2003. They haven’t started 0-4 since losing 10 straight to begin 1988.
McCann and Dan Uggla have been at the heart of Atlanta’s offensive woes, combining for two hits in 20 at-bats.
McCann, however, has fared well at Minute Maid Park, totaling four homers and 11 RBIs in his last six games there. The six-time All-Star hit .294 with four homers and eight RBIs against the Astros last season to help the Braves go 5-1 in the series for a second straight year, but is 2 for 14 lifetime against scheduled starter J.A. Happ.
Houston beat Colorado 3-2 on Sunday to take two of three. Carlos Lee and J.D. Martinez each homered and had three RBIs in the opening series for Houston, which last started 3-1 in 2006.