Before taking on the New York Yankees in a pivotal three-game series later in the week, the Boston Red Sox look to pad their American League wild-card lead during a two-game set with the visiting New York Mets beginning Tuesday.
The Red Sox (86-65) entered an off day Monday up one game on the Toronto Blue Jays for the top wild-card spot. The Yankees were 2 1/2 games back of Boston but remained in striking distance. Both rivals will play Monday as the Yankees host the Texas Rangers, while the Blue Jays are at the Tampa Bay Rays.
Boston has won five straight after sweeping the 100-loss Baltimore Orioles over the weekend. A short series against another losing club in the Mets (73-77) represents a similar opportunity.
"When games matter (like this), every game becomes a playoff game, every pitch matters, every inning matters," said utility man Enrique Hernandez, who drove in a pair of runs in an 8-6 comeback victory Sunday. "It's a lot of fun, and hopefully we can keep playing good baseball and winning some games."
The Mets enter the series having snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday night.
Boston will send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (11-8, 5.00 ERA) to the mound for Tuesday's opener. New York will counter with right-hander Marcus Stroman (9-12, 2.88 ERA).
After the Mets, the Red Sox will conclude their regular-season home schedule with a three-game weekend series against the Yankees. Boston's final six games are on the road against more losing clubs in Baltimore and the Washington Nationals.
"I like our chances," Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi said. "I like our schedule coming up. We just have to keep doing the small things right, going out there and competing and keep winning."
The Red Sox fell behind 6-5 in the seventh inning against the Orioles on Sunday before scoring three in the bottom of the frame. Boston has tallied seven or more runs in each contest during its winning streak.
The Mets also came from behind at home against the Phillies, erasing a 2-0 deficit with two runs in the fifth before Jeff McNeil's solo home run in the seventh sealed the result.
"It was a big hit," manager Luis Rojas said. "Those big hits showed up a lot in the first half to win a lot of one-run games. It hasn't shown up lately. Tonight, it showed up from Jeff."
Though not officially eliminated from postseason contention, the Mets are 5 1/2 games back in the National League East and seven off the pace in the wild-card hunt.
Rodriguez allowed two runs (one earned) over six innings in a no-decision against the Seattle Mariners last time out. He is 1-1 with a 4.02 ERA in three starts this month. The southpaw will face the Mets for the first time in his career.
Stroman is no stranger to the Red Sox, having spent 5 1/2 seasons with the division rival Blue Jays. He is 6-3 with a 3.44 ERA in 14 starts lifetime against the club.
Stroman surrendered two runs over six innings in a no-decision against the St. Louis Cardinals in his most recent performance.
--Field Level Media