The New York Mets host their National League East rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies, in the opener of a key three-game series Friday night.
Both teams need wins to keep pace in the NL wild-card race, with both still alive despite time running out in the regular season to overtake the two teams currently holding wild cards, the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs.
Right-hander Zach Eflin (8-11, 4.33 ERA) is set to start for the Phillies, against the Mets' Steven Matz (9-8, 4.04).
The Phillies (72-67) lost 4-3 to the Cincinnati Reds in 11 innings on Thursday afternoon. But they are 10-6 against the Mets this season.
This is the first season in which the Phillies won the season series with the Mets since 2009. But they have not been able to gain much ground in the wild-card race, with a 5-5 record in their last 10 games and a 15-15 mark in their last 30.
New York (71-68) has won four of six, but one of the losses was a crushing 11-10 defeat to the Washington Nationals in which the Mets blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning, a franchise-worst.
The Mets are 25-12 in their last 37 games but 4-8 in their last 12.
Eflin is 1-1 in three starts against the Mets this season, with a 5.63 ERA. But he allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings against them on Sunday, his last start. In his career against the Mets, Eflin is 3-4 with a 5.37 ERA.
Matz is 2-2 with a 9.00 ERA against the Phillies this season, with four starts and one relief appearance. He gave up eight runs (six earned) without getting an out in a start at the Phillies in April, and on June 24 gave up seven earned runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings in Philadelphia. Matz is 2-4 with a 5.82 ERA in 10 career games (nine starts) against the Phillies.
Philadelphia left Cincinnati 3 1/2 games behind the Cubs for the second wild card.
"We still have plenty of time, but we have to turn it around quickly," Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto told the team's website. "We're three or four games out with three weeks left in the season with some really important games against some really good teams. So we have time to do it, but we have to do it pretty quickly."
The Mets' roller coaster of a season somehow still has them alive for a one-game playoff.
"We battle, we have each other's back," slugger Pete Alonso, who has 45 home runs on the season, told the New York Daily News. "I think that's been the key for us all year. We've come so far, and we're just going to keep on pushing forward, keep pushing each other in the best way possible and just keep working."
Mets catcher Wilson Ramos, a former Phillie, faces his former team on the heels of a 26-game hitting streak that ended Wednesday. Ramos' streak tied David Wright for the second-longest in club history.
--Field Level Media
Mets visit Phillies for critical series
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