(Photo credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports)
A team in a fierce battle for a playoff spot isn't usually in the business of providing helpful advice to one of its competitors.
But it would be hard to blame the Arizona Diamondbacks if they left a note for the Cincinnati Reds warning them to beware of the New York Mets this weekend.
The Mets will again impact the race for the final National League wild-card spot starting on Friday night, when New York hosts the Reds in the opener of a three-game series.
Left-hander David Peterson (3-8, 5.34 ERA) is slated to start for the Mets against right-hander Hunter Greene (4-6, 4.43).
The Mets ensured the Diamondbacks and Reds would remain among three teams tied for the third wild-card berth on Thursday afternoon, when host New York rolled to an 11-1 win over Arizona shortly after Cincinnati lost to the Tigers 8-2 in Detroit.
The Diamondbacks and Reds are both 76-72, while the San Francisco Giants are 75-71. All three teams have a winning percentage of .514. The trio are a half-game ahead of the Miami Marlins (75-72) and 2 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs -- who visit Arizona in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night.
The Diamondbacks missed chances to gain some separation by losing the final three games of the four-game set in New York. The Mets (68-78) hit seven homers while outscoring Arizona 28-10 in the series.
"Their players deserve credit," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "I don't know where they are in the standings, if they've got an 'e' (elimination) next to their name or not. But you would never know. They played good baseball."
The lopsided win put the Mets' record at 4-3 to begin a season-ending 23-game stretch against teams occupying or chasing a playoff spot.
"We just need to keep playing good baseball, regardless of what the standings say," Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said. "Whoever we play, we want to put our best foot forward and win."
The loss to the Tigers cost Cincinnati a chance to complete a three-game sweep and continued its up-and-down stretch over the last six weeks. The Reds are 17-23 since Aug. 1, and in that span, they have endured six losing streaks of at least two games and put together five winning streaks of at least two games.
The Reds had a chance to cut into a 4-1 deficit in the eighth inning Thursday, but with runners at first and second on no outs, Hunter Renfroe struck out and Christian Encarnacion-Strand hit into a double play. Matt Vierling put the game out of reach with a grand slam in the bottom of the frame.
"There's a lot of quiet mouths right now, and that's what we need," Reds pitcher Ben Lively said after throwing 4 1/3 innings in a bullpen game. "It's going to get us fired up (to) go into New York and turn the page.
"Let's go. Back to it."
Peterson took the loss on Sept. 9, when he gave up three runs in six innings as the Mets fell 8-4 to the Minnesota Twins. He is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in two career starts covering seven innings against the Reds.
Greene returned from the COVID-19 injured list on Sunday, and he earned the win after allowing just an unearned run on one hit over six innings in the Reds' 7-1 victory over the visiting St. Louis Cardinals. He is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts spanning 10 2/3 innings against the Mets.
--Field Level Media