The New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles acted like a pair of teams with different goals at the trade deadline Aug. 31. However, both squads will share the same objective Tuesday night when New York hosts Baltimore in the opener of a two-game interleague series.
The Mets came back from a six-run deficit Monday afternoon and briefly held the lead before falling to the visiting Philadelphia Phillies 9-8 in 10 innings. The Orioles were off Monday after a 5-1 win over the visiting New York Yankees on Sunday afternoon.
Mets right-hander Michael Wacha (1-2, 7.20 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Orioles left-hander John Means (0-3, 8.10) in a rematch of a duel in Baltimore last Wednesday, when New York earned a 9-4 win. In that contest, Wacha allowed two runs over three innings in a no-decision. Means took the loss after giving up four runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The Camden Yards edition of the interleague matchup began Sept. 1, one day after the Orioles sent right-handed reliever Miguel Castro to the Mets in exchange for minor league pitcher Kevin Smith and a player to be named or cash.
It was one of five trades made since the beginning of the pandemic-shortened season by the Orioles, who continued stockpiling their system by acquiring eight or nine (depending on the return for Castro) players in the deals as they continue a rebuild following back-to-back 100-plus-loss seasons in 2018 and '19.
But eight days after bidding goodbye to Castro, the Orioles (19-21) are right in the thick of the expanded playoff race. Baltimore, which took three of four from the Yankees over the weekend, is 5-2 since Aug. 31 and will enter Tuesday just 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the race for the eighth and final American League playoff spot.
"This is fun to watch," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said after right-hander Dean Kremer won his big league debut Sunday afternoon by allowing one hit and one run over six innings. "Young guys gaining this experience and performing, and it sets up well for the future."
Despite being four games under .500 heading into play on Aug. 31, the Mets made a trio of win-now moves by acquiring Castro as well as infielder Todd Frazier and catcher Robinson Chirinos in a pair of deals with the Texas Rangers.
New York looked as if it were starting to build some momentum when it outscored the Phillies 19-2 in back-to-back wins on Saturday and Sunday, but the loss Monday dropped the Mets to 19-23 and left them three games out of eighth place in the NL.
"It's a tough loss," Mets manager Luis Rojas said. "All the losses are tough in a season like this -- (in a) short season they count a little more."
Castro took the loss, allowing two runs (one earned) in one inning.
"Since coming here I don't think I have been as sharp as before I got traded," he said, according to the New York Post.
Last Wednesday's game marked the first time Wacha opposed the Orioles as well as the first time Means faced the Mets.
--Field Level Media
Mets' Wacha, Orioles' Means face off in rematch