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Mets look to play role of spoiler vs. Diamondbacks

Sep 10, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Mets left fielder Tim Locastro (26) and New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) celebrate a 2-0 win with their teammates at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets know exactly how the Arizona Diamondbacks felt a year ago.

Now the Mets will try to prevent the Diamondbacks from learning how New York felt last season.

The Mets will look to play spoiler on Monday night, when they host the Diamondbacks in the opener of a four-game series.

Left-hander Jose Quintana (2-5, 3.00 ERA) is slated to start for the Mets against right-hander Zach Davies (2-5, 6.81).

Both teams played on the road Sunday afternoon, when the Mets salvaged the finale of a three-game series by beating the Minnesota Twins 2-0 and the Diamondbacks missed a chance to sweep a four-game set by falling to the Chicago Cubs, 5-2.

The loss cost the Diamondbacks (75-69) a chance to tie the Cubs (77-67) for the second wild-card spot in the National League and clinch the season series and potential tiebreaker.

But the weekend was still a productive one for Arizona, which jumped into the third and final wild-card spot, a half-game ahead of the Miami Marlins (74-69) and 1 1/2 games ahead of both the San Francisco Giants (73-70) and Cincinnati Reds (74-71).

The Diamondbacks are attempting to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Arizona is just two seasons removed from going 52-110 and finished 74-88 last year.

“I think it’s definitely going to help us with this playoff push, playing in these types of environments,” second-year Diamondbacks outfielder Alek Thomas said. “It’s great to be able to get that taste of what the postseason might be like.”

The Mets (65-77) got a taste of the real thing last season, when they finished 101-61 before losing to the San Diego Padres in an NL wild-card series. But New York, which has been under .500 every day since June 6, hasn’t been able to produce an encore despite opening this season with the highest payroll in big-league history.

The weekend series against the American League Central-leading Twins began a season-ending stretch of 23 consecutive games against contenders for the Mets, who will play the Reds, Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies after hosting the Diamondbacks.

The Mets finally got to play spoiler on Sunday, though they struck out 14 times in the first eight innings against Pablo Lopez before DJ Stewart — who had whiffed in each of his first three at-bats — laced a two-run double off Griffin Jax.

“You are 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against one of the better pitchers in the league,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “You have got an opportunity to take a challenging day and turn it into something good.”

Quintana earned the win last Tuesday, when he allowed one run over seven innings as the Mets beat the Washington Nationals, 11-5. He is 0-2 with an 8.37 ERA in five career starts against the Diamondbacks.

Davies didn’t factor into the decision on Wednesday after giving up five runs over three innings in the Diamondbacks’ 12-5 win over the Colorado Rockies. He is 3-3 with a 5.44 ERA in 10 career starts against the Mets.

–Field Level Media