(Photo credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
The Cincinnati Reds have moved into a tie for the third and final wild-card spot in the National League, and now know they control their own destiny.
On Saturday night, they will look to remain in that playoff spot when they visit the New York Mets in the second game of a three-game series.
Left-hander Andrew Abbott (8-5, 3.64 ERA) is slated to start for the Reds against right-hander Tylor Megill (8-7, 5.03).
The Reds won the series opener 5-3 on Friday night when Jonathan India snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-run homer and Alexis Diaz earned a five-out save.
Wins by the Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks -- who beat the Chicago Cubs 6-4 -- coupled with the San Francisco Giants' 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies vaulted the two victors into a tie for the final wild card.
The Reds and Diamondbacks are both 77-72, a half-game ahead of the Miami Marlins (76-72) and a game ahead of the Giants (75-72). However, Cincinnati has the tiebreaker over Arizona by virtue of a 4-3 win in the season series.
"It boils down to just getting our job done and taking care of business and winning games," Reds reliever Ian Gibaut said. "If we do that part, then (Cincinnati) shouldn't have an issue."
Pete Alonso hit a game-tying three-run homer in the half-inning before India's blast for the Reds, who have won four of their past five games after a 6-10 stretch from Aug. 24 through Sept. 9.
"It may not go smooth every inning and every play," Reds manager David Bell said. "But you just have to keep going for nine innings. And we'll continue to do that."
The Mets (68-79) displayed a familiar peskiness Friday as they continued impacting the NL wild-card race despite not contending for a playoff berth. Prior to hosting the Reds, New York won the final three games of a four-game series against the Diamondbacks.
After facing the Reds, the Mets are scheduled to play their final 13 games against the Marlins and the top wild-card team, the Philadelphia Phillies.
On Friday, New York was hitless through four innings against Hunter Greene and had just three hits against the right-hander before Alonso's homer. The Mets put two runners on in the seventh, when Mark Vientos hit into a double play against Gibaut, and in the eighth, when Alonso and Jeff McNeil flied out to center against Diaz to end the threat.
"Greene was really good tonight -- we knew that was going to be a challenge," Mets manager Buck Showalter said. "But Pete got us back in it, and we had a couple chances."
Abbott took the loss in his most recent start Sept. 8, when he allowed six runs over four innings as the Reds fell to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-4. He has never opposed the Mets.
Megill didn't factor into the decision last Sunday, when he tossed five scoreless innings in the Mets' 2-0 win over the Minnesota Twins. He has never faced the Reds.
--Field Level Media