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Cubs open up a 3-game series against the Mets tonight at Wrigley Field

A pursuit of a third consecutive playoff berth is proving tougher
than anticipated for the Chicago Cubs.
Sweating out September is a far better fate than the one befalling
the New York Mets, another team that began the season with hopes of
reaching the postseason for a third consecutive time.
Two recent National League Championship Series rivals headed in
opposite directions will meet tonight, when the Cubs host the
Mets in the opener of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
Left-hander Jose Quintana (9-11, 4.32 ERA between the Cubs and
Chicago White Sox) is scheduled to oppose rookie Mets right-hander
Robert Gsellman (6-6, 5.44 ERA).
Both teams were off Monday after home losses Sunday.
The Cubs fell to the Milwaukee Brewers, 3-1, to cap a three-game
series in which they were swept by a combined score of 20-3. The
Mets missed a chance to complete a four-game sweep of the
Cincinnati Reds with a 10-5 loss.
The Cubs weren't expected to be in such a nail-biting position at
this point in September, especially after winning 103 games last
season before earning the franchise's first World Series crown in
108 years with a euphoric seven-game win over the Cleveland Indians.
Even so, perpetually upbeat manager Joe Maddon is finding a reason
to relish the Cubs' task instead of dreading it.
"I think you enjoy the pennant race," Maddon said. "Enjoy this
whole thing. We're in a position once again to go back to the
playoffs. That's something you never want to take for granted."
Nobody has to remind Mets manager Terry Collins.
New York (63-80) swept the Cubs in the NLCS on the way to the World
Series in 2015 and reached the NL wild-card game last season.
However, the Mets, besieged by injuries and underperformance, have
been playing out the string for months and have been under .500
since mid-May.
Collins said Sunday he hasn't thought about visiting Wrigley Field
with nothing at stake less than two years after the Mets clinched a
trip to the World Series at the venerable ballpark. Only 10 players
on New York's active roster were on the team in 2015.
"That's why it's not going to remind me of much," Collins said with
a laugh. "I'll look down the bench, there'll be a whole new cast of
characters."
Quintana didn't factor into the decision in his most recent start
last Wednesday, when he allowed six hits over six scoreless innings
in the Cubs' 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Gsellman was credited with his first career complete game last
Wednesday after surrendering three runs (two earned) over six
innings in a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies that was
shortened by rain.
Quintana took a hard-luck defeat in his lone start against the Mets
on May 30, 2016, when he gave up one run over seven innings in the
White Sox's 1-0 loss. Gsellman has never faced the Cubs.

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