The Mets will look to gain a little ground in the National League wild-card race Monday night when they host the Miami Marlins in the opener of a four-game series.
Both teams won Sunday, when the visiting Mets rode a four-run first inning to a 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds, and the host Marlins avoided a three-game sweep by beating the Washington Nationals 5-3.
The win by the Mets (81-74) assured them of just their third non-losing season this decade and kept them 4 1/2 games behind in the race for a National League wild-card spot. The scorching Brewers (86-70), who completed a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 4-3 win, are 15-2 in their last 17 games to move into a virtual tie with the Nationals (85-79) for the top wild card.
The Brewers are off Monday while the Nationals host the Phillies, who are six games behind the wild-card teams. On Tuesday night, the Mets can hope for some help from the Reds, who host Milwaukee in the opener of a three-game series.
Of course, none of it matters if the Mets don't win, and win a lot, in the final week.
"We're playing good baseball," Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters Sunday afternoon. "We just need to continue to put pressure on others and keep moving forward and focus on one game. We're (still) playing for something."
The Marlins (54-101) have been playing out the string for most of a second straight rebuilding season. But playing spoiler against the Nationals served as a reminder of the peskiness and resiliency Miami has displayed under Don Mattingly, who signed a two-year extension on Friday to remain the team's manager through the overhaul process.
Now the Marlins will look to continue impacting the playoff race during the penultimate series of the season.
"As for the Nationals, we came in hoping to knock them out of the playoff race a little bit," Marlins rookie outfielder Austin Dean told reporters Sunday afternoon. "Hopefully, that is a little wake-up call for the next couple of games."
Matz took the loss in his most recent start Sept. 16, when he gave up seven runs over four innings as the Mets fell to the Colorado Rockies 9-4.
Smith earned the win in his most recent start Sept. 17, when he allowed four runs over five innings in the Marlins' 12-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Matz is 4-3 with a 2.83 ERA in 11 career starts against the Marlins. Smith is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in four starts against the Mets.
--Field Level Media