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Star-studded Padres, Mets clash

This is not playing the long game here. This is the short game.

NEW YORK — For two teams that finished second fiddle in their divisions, the San Diego Padres and New York Mets bring an awful lot of star power into the playoffs.

Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Yu Darvish on the San Diego side.

Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor for New York — just to name a few.

A couple of baseball’s biggest spenders, one from each coast, primed to square off in a best-of-three National League wild card series at Citi Field beginning Friday night. Two wins earns a Division Series date with the powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers.

“This is not playing the long game here. This is the short game,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said Thursday.

“It’s a different time of the year.”

No doubt, both clubs feel the pressure and urgency that comes with knowing one bad weekend means the sudden end of a promising season filled with big expectations.

San Diego entered with eyes on winning the National League West and — even though Los Angeles ran away with the division title — the Padres stamped themselves World Series contenders by acquiring Soto and All-Star closer Josh Hader in a huge splash at the 2 August trade deadline.

They didn’t take off on the tear some anticipated, but the Padres (89-73) won enough to earn the second NL wild card despite finishing 22 games behind the Dodgers.

“We have some great characters on this team,” Darvish said through a translator.

“It’s a fun clubhouse.”

Powered by Pete Alonso and big-league batting champion Jeff McNeil at the plate, New York (101-61) sat atop the NL East for all but six days this season.

But even after leading by 10 1/2 games on 1 June and seven on 10 August, the Mets were unable to hold off the Braves.

MLB.COM

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