NEW YORK (AP) " Madison Bumgarner against Noah Syndergaard with the season on the line. A pair of towering tough guys you probably don't want to mess with.
Toting his outstanding October resume to the mound, Bumgarner will start for the San Francisco Giants against Syndergaard and the New York Mets in the NL wild-card game Wednesday night.
The winner moves on to face the major league-best Chicago Cubs (103-58) in a best-of-five Division Series. The loser heads home for the winter.
"It's going to be an exciting game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday, when both teams worked out at Citi Field. "I mean, this is the fun thing about postseason is you're going to get great matchups like this."
San Francisco, the top team in the majors at the All-Star break, struggled badly throughout the second half before finishing with a four-game winning streak. That was enough to hold off St. Louis by one game and secure the last NL playoff spot on the final day of the regular season.
New York, the defending NL champion, was two games under .500 on Aug. 19 after losing consecutive games in San Francisco. But with slugger Yoenis Cespedes and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera back from the disabled list, the Mets posted the top mark in the majors (27-13) from that point on and jumped over four teams in the pennant race.
Both teams finished 87-75 with New York earned home-field advantage by winning the season series 4-3.
"Good major league players, when it comes crunch time, they turn it on," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "So I'm not really sure that momentum going in means a whole lot. Both of us have had to play good at the end " we did."
Citi Field should be rocking Wednesday night, but Bumgarner, Bochy and the Giants know all about excelling in elimination games and thriving under postseason pressure. After winning World Series titles in 2010, '12 and '14, they want to extend their pattern of even-year championships with another run through October.
The last time Bumgarner pitched in the postseason, he saved Game 7 of the 2014 World Series in Kansas City with five scoreless innings on two days' rest to cap one of the greatest postseason performances in baseball history.
"With us finishing up the way we did, I feel really, really good about our chances," Bumgarner said.
The 24-year-old Syndergaard joined Bumgarner on the All-Star roster this summer and went 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA and 218 strikeouts over 183 2/3 innings. Featuring a 100 mph fastball, sharp slider and impressive control of several secondary pitches, he won a pair of postseason starts as a rookie last year " including Game 3 of the World Series against the Royals.
"It's just a dream come true," he said. "It's going to be really exciting and I'm looking forward to getting out there and feeling the energy from the hometown crowd, just having an awesome time."
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings