Any long-shot dreams that the New York Mets (64-75) could pull off a late-season miracle were effectively dashed on Wednesday night. The Mets’ bats didn’t provide enough offense and the bullpen coughed up a late lead in a 3-2 walk-off loss to the Washington Nationals, dropping the Mets back to 11 games under .500 with just over three weeks left in the regular season. The only role that the Mets will realistically play down the stretch is that of spoiler as their final 23 games come against playoff contenders. That run begins tonight as the Mets continue their five-game road trip against the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins (73-67). First pitch for the opener of this weekend series is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. at Target Field.
2022 was a bitterly disappointing year for the Twins, who led the AL Central for most of the way before fading down the stretch in a similar fashion as the 2021 Mets, going 78-84 to finish in third place and land 14 games back of the first-place Cleveland Guardians. The offseason saw Minnesota make a few notable moves, such as trading reigning batting champion Luis Arraez to the Miami Marlins for starting pitcher Pablo Lopez and signing catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year deal, but the big headline was the surprising return of Carlos Correa after he opted out of his original deal. Correa signed long-term deals with both the San Francisco Giants and Mets before both teams flunked his physical, clearing a path for him to land back in Minnesota on a six-year deal worth $200 million. The moves have been good enough for Minnesota to build a solid lead in the league’s weakest division, making this series a solid test for the young Mets.
Right-hander Kodai Senga (10-7, 3.08 ERA) is set to take the mound for the Mets tonight. Senga dominated the Seattle Mariners in his last start, allowing one run in seven innings while striking out 12 last Friday, but he was stuck with a no-decision thanks to a lack of run support from his teammates. The Mets ended up winning that game 2-1. The Twins will counter with veteran lefty Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 5.06 ERA), who they picked up on a minor league deal earlier this summer. Keuchel was hit hard by the Texas Rangers in his last start, giving up five runs in 3.1 innings last Saturday, but was bailed out of a loss as Minnesota rallied to beat Texas 9-7 in 10 innings.
New York Mets Lineup:
Weekend in Minnesota. #LGM
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 8, 2023
The Mets haven’t played the Twins since 2019, when they took three out of four against Minnesota.
This is the Mets’ first visit to Target Field since 2019, when they swept a two-game series against the Twins in mid-July.
Senga has never faced the Twins before.
Keuchel is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in three career starts against the Mets, all of which came when he was a member of the Atlanta Braves in 2019.
Francisco Alvarez is back in the Mets’ starting lineup after getting the night off on Wednesday. He will catch and bat second.
Daniel Vogelbach and D.J. Stewart will both sit with the lefty Keuchel on the mound. Mark Vientos will serve as the designated hitter and bat fifth while Tim Locastro will start in left field and bat ninth.