Mets threaten in NL standings; Astros go for third straight win vs. Cleveland
By Chad Thornburg
The Cardinals can further their hold on a National League Wild Card spot today when they go for a sweep in Pittsburgh.
St. Louis enters the day in position to play the Giants in NL's one-game playoff, but the Mets, who have won four straight, are looming. Pittsburgh's playoff hopes, meanwhile, have taken a hit in recent weeks as the Pirates have dropped eight straight games, all to division opponents.
This NL Central clash is far from the only intriguing matchup on tap for the day's 15-game slate, however. The Astros continue their Wild Card pursuit in a matchup with one of the American League's top clubs, while Noah Syndergaard toes the rubber for the Mets vs. the Reds in Cincinnati. All the action is available for streaming live on MLB.TV.
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Here's what to watch for throughout the day (all times in ET):
Tallion draws first assignment vs. rival Cards: STL@PIT, 7:05 p.m. Jameson Taillon is getting his first taste of a Major League playoff push this month as the Pirates compete for a place in the NL Wild Card Game. The rookie hurler will match up against the division-rival Cardinals for the first time in his career today, looking to help his club bring an end to its season-high eight-game skid. Taillon has been a steady presence in the Pittsburgh rotation since his call-up in June, posting a 3.25 ERA in 83 innings and turning in 11 quality starts.
"If I can help contribute in any way, that's great," Taillon said. "I'm aware of the standings, where we're at and what's at stake. If I'm a guy they'd like to turn the ball over to, that's great. I'm going to definitely do my best here."
For the Cardinals, Mike Leake will get the start, returning to the mound after a bout with shingles. He last pitched on Aug. 21, logging seven scoreless frames in a win over Philadelphia.
Stat that matters: Taillon has held opponents to a .085 (4-for-47) average on two-strike counts over the last 30 days.
Tribe host Wild Card-hopeful Astros: HOU@CLE, 7:10 p.m.
The Astros are in the midst of one of the toughest stretches of their season -- a 13-game span against teams currently in first place, including six matchups with the rival Rangers and three with the Cubs, who boast the best record in baseball. This scheduling gauntlet comes at a challenging time for Houston as it tries to maintain pace among a crowded American League Wild Card field. The Astros have risen to the occasion this week, however, besting the Indians in back-to-back games in Cleveland and will look to continue that momentum today behind right-hander Doug Fister in the third game of the four-game set.
Stat that matters: Carrasco has retired the leadoff batter in 24 consecutive innings, the longest active streak in the Majors.
Mets rising in NL Wild Card race: NYM@CIN, 12:35 p.m.
The Mets kept pace with the Cardinals on Tuesday, remaining firmly in the mix for an NL Wild Card spot. With Noah Syndergaard on the mound today, New York will try to vault into playoff contention in a matchup vs. the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Syndergaard appears to be rounding back into his dominant form just in time for the Mets' playoff push. He's yieled just three total runs over his last three starts (22 innings). Syndergaard took the loss his last time out, despite limiting the Nationals to two runs over seven frames. The Reds will counter with right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who has gone at least seven innings in three straight starts with a 2.35 ERA.
Stat that matters: Syndergaard has allowed 45 stolen bases this year, tying him for 20th in MLB history for a single season. The record is 60, set by Dwight Gooden in 1990.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers get the Mosaic View -- split screen or quad, available on PC or Mac only. That always comes in handy, especially when scoreboard-watching looms. MLB.TV Premium and MLB.TV Single Team subscribers both enjoy HD and both will get real-time highlights and player stats automatically loaded moments after they occur (only for the game you are watching with MLB.TV Single Team, and for all games with MLB.TV Premium).
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.