Flushing, NY— It’s all about October. Welcome to the Postseason, where legends are made and legacies are cemented. MLB’s regular season is all wrapped up with postseason baseball looming as Wild Card weekend begins this Friday across the country.
The New York Mets will host the San Diego Padres at Citi Field in a best of three Wild Card series beginning Friday evening with first pitch set for 8:07pm ET. Expect the Amazin’ Mets faithful to be electric, this marks New York’s first postseason appearance since 2016.
“Friday is gonna be a different beast; it’s gonna be loud,” said Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil. “It’s gonna be rocking. We gotta be ready to play, it’s gonna be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it.”
With sold-out crowds zoned in on each pitch witnessing their playoff fate, the October intensity has arrived. Game One ticket prices to get-in-the-door are currently averaging $100 on secondary sites (VividSeats/Stubhub).
“Fans, are you ready for the playoffs?,” Mets owner Steve Cohen shared on his Twitter account after Wednesday’s regular season finale.
The pitching matchup for Game One is set for an all-out duel. Padres right-hander Yu Darvish (16-8, 3.10 ERA) will take the mound against two-time Cy Young award winner Mets right-hander Max Scherzer (11-5, 2.29 ERA).
A matchup fans are aware of because Darvish outdueled Scherzer this past July 22nd at Citi Field. After allowing one earned run across seven innings with nine strikeouts. Scherzer totaled eight strikeouts over six innings, allowing two earned runs.
Likewise, in eight career outings against the Mets, Darvish stands 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA compiling 58 strikeouts over 52.2 innings pitched.
“He’s a great pitcher. I’m sure a lot of these guys remember how he’s pitched against us in the past,” said McNeil. “He’s pitched well, but that was a learning experience for the playoffs. I’m sure guys are gonna remember those at bats and see the best way to approach him.”
Though McNeil will be a focal point in the Mets quest for a National League pennant, his regular season cannot go unnoticed. The 30-year-old led all of MLB with a .326 batting average this year, becoming the second Met ever to win a National League batting title. He joined José Reyes (2011), of Santiago, Dominican Republic, as the only Mets in franchise history to achieve the extraordinary feat.
“He earned everything. You don’t do something like that over that number of games without earning it, that’s for sure,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said about McNeil. “He took on everybody’s pitcher and he won the batting title. Very proud of him, so is everybody on the team.”
But, back to what’s at stake this weekend. The Mets success against Darvish is working the count and getting good quality at bats, though that will be a daunting task. A quick glimpse at how the Mets fare against Darvish in their careers:
New York Mets Individual Career Statistics against Darvish
Francisco Lindor: .313 (5-16), 4 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K
Jeff McNeil: .091 (1-11), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
Pete Alonso: .200 (2-10), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K
Eduardo Escobar: .176 (3-17), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 7 K
James McCann: .400 (4-10), 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 K
Francisco Lindor, the 2016 AL LatinoMVP recipient, is a leading factor in the postseason. Lindor (Caguas, Puerto Rico), flourished in his second season as a Met, totaling 26 HR and 107 RBI, the most in both categories by a shortstop in team franchise history.
Nonetheless, Lindor and the Mets’ chase to a National League pennant begins Friday night against San Diego’s top ace, Darvish.
“I’ve always said I play the game for my family, for the fans, the people around me, and to give them something to cheer on,” Lindor said. “But, now this is the best time of the year. I want to give them a lot for them to cheer.”
After all, postseason baseball is here.
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Robert Rizzo is the assistant editor for Latino Sports
Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994
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