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Talent aplenty for Mets, Padres

by Mike Fitzpatrick AP Baseball Writer | October 7, 2022 at 2:15 a.m.
Francisco Lindor set a career high with 107 RBI for the New York Mets, who won the second-most games in franchise history (101) and led the National League East for all but six days this season. (AP/Morry Gash)

NEW YORK -- For two teams that finished second fiddle in their divisions, the Padres and Mets bring an awful lot of star power into the playoffs.

Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Yu Darvish on the San Diego side.

Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor for New York -- just to name a few.

A couple of baseball's biggest spenders, one from each coast, primed to square off in a best-of-three National League wild-card series at Citi Field beginning tonight. Two wins earns a Division Series date with the powerhouse Dodgers.

"This is not playing the long game here. This is the short game," Mets Manager Buck Showalter said Thursday. "It's a different time of the year."

No doubt, both clubs feel the pressure and urgency that comes with knowing one bad weekend means the sudden end of a promising season filled with big expectations.

San Diego entered with eyes on winning the NL West and -- even though Los Angeles ran away with the division title -- the Padres stamped themselves World Series contenders by acquiring Soto and All-Star closer Josh Hader in a huge splash at the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

They didn't take off on the tear some anticipated, but the Padres (89-73) won enough to earn the second NL wild card despite finishing 22 games behind the Dodgers.

"We have some great characters on this team," Darvish said through a translator. "It's a fun clubhouse."

Powered by Pete Alonso and big league batting champion Jeff McNeil at the plate, New York (101-61) sat atop the NL East for all but six days this season.

But even after leading by 10 1/2 games on June 1 and seven on Aug. 10, the Mets were unable to hold off the Braves. The defending World Series champions snatched away their fifth consecutive division crown and a first-round playoff bye on the strength of a head-to-head sweep in Atlanta last weekend.

New York must shake off that major disappointment -- fast.

"Yesterday's news," said Lindor, who set a career high with 107 RBI as the Mets won the second-most games in franchise history. "We've got to focus on what's in front of our feet."

Both teams worked out for an hour Thursday under a clear sky at Citi Field. Nice weather is forecast all weekend, though night-time temperatures around 50 degrees could feel a little chilly to San Diego players.

The Padres went 4-2 against New York during the regular season, taking two of three at Citi Field in July even before acquiring Soto, Hader, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury.

"We should feel good about that. It does not apply in this series," Manager Bob Melvin said. "You try to bring that momentum with you. But it's a different ballgame now."

  photo  New York Mets manager Buck Showalter, right, talks to San Diego Padres manager Bob Melvin during batting practice the day before their wild-card baseball playoff game, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
 
 
  photo  San Diego Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, of South Korea, takes part in drills during batting practice the day before a wild-card baseball playoff game against the New York Mets, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
 
 
  photo  The New York Mets take part in batting practice the day before a wild-card baseball playoff game against the San Diego Padres, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
 
 
  photo  New York Mets' Francisco Lindor, left, listens as Pete Alonso, right, speaks during a news conference the day before their wild-card baseball playoff game against the San Diego Padres, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
 
 
  photo  San Diego Padres' Manny Machado takes part in batting practice the day before a wild-card baseball playoff game against the New York Mets, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
 
 
  photo  San Diego Padres manager Bob Melvin, right, watches his players take part in batting practice the day before a wild-card baseball playoff game against the New York Mets, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
 
 
  photo  San Diego Padres starting pitcher Yu Darvish, of Japan, listens to a question during a news conference the day before a wild-card baseball playoff game against the New York Mets, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
 
 
  photo  New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer speaks during a news conference the day before a wild-card baseball playoff game against the San Diego Padres, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
 
 
  photo  San Diego Padres manager Bob Melvin, left, shakes hands with New York Mets manager Buck Showalter, right, during Mets batting practice the day before their wild-card baseball playoff game, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
 
 

Print Headline: Talent aplenty for Mets, Padres

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