The playoff chase is filled with conflicting emotions. Just ask the New York Mets, who have morphed this week from hopeful to greedy.
The Mets will look to continue their climb back into the National League wild-card race Thursday afternoon, when they attempt to complete a four-game sweep of the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.
Right-hander Marcus Stroman (7-13, 3.42 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Mets against Diamondbacks rookie left-hander Alex Young (7-3, 3.38 ERA).
The Mets gained ground again in the wild-card race Wednesday night when Todd Frazier and Jeff McNeil hit two homers apiece in a 9-0 rout of the Diamondbacks.
By winning the first three games of the series, the Mets (75-70) have surged past the Diamondbacks (75-71) in the wild-card standings. New York and the Philadelphia Phillies are two games behind the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, who are tied for the second wild-card spot.
Arizona is a half-game behind the Mets and Phillies.
The Cubs lost their second straight game Wednesday to the San Diego Padres, who earned a 4-0 victory. The Brewers ran their winning streak to six games with a 7-5 win over the Miami Marlins.
Frazier spoke Tuesday of how awkward it is to have to hope other teams will help the Mets. But now that the Padres and Atlanta Braves, the latter of whom edged the Phillies 3-1 on Wednesday, have offered some assistance, Frazier wants to see an extra edge to his teammates Thursday afternoon.
"I always tell the guys: Don't ever beg, but always get greedy," Frazier said. "And that's something I learned at a young age. You get two hits, we're not going to beg for three, we're going to get greedy and try to get it.
"For us, (Thursday's) a huge game. Every game is. But let's not treat it as a sweep. Let's treat it as winning that day. Because now you see a couple teams are winning, a couple teams are losing, it's going up and down. So it's that chess match of not worrying about anything else but worrying about us winning games."
The Diamondbacks, who won 11 of 12 before falling to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, aren't far removed from being in the position the Mets are enjoying. But now Arizona has to balance the urgency of grinding out must-win games while keeping an eye on how its rivals are faring.
"We're in the race and it's the middle of September," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "We've earned that right to scoreboard-watch and pay attention to the standings. It shouldn't occupy our thoughts beyond that first or second glance. It's been a rough four games, no doubt about it, but things can change, and we know that."
Stroman took the loss in his most recent start, when he gave up five runs (four earned) over four innings as the Mets fell to the Phillies 5-0 on Saturday.
Young was brilliant in a Saturday win, allowing just two hits over eight scoreless innings in the Diamondbacks' 2-0 victory at Cincinnati. He struck out 12 and walked one.
Stroman is 1-1 with a 4.61 ERA in two career starts against the Diamondbacks, including a June 7 defeat, when he gave up six runs in 5 2/3 innings. Young has never opposed the Mets.
--Field Level Media
Mets chase four-game sweep of D-backs