In the midst of their longest, hottest and potentially most pivotal homestand of the season, the New York Mets are doing what Buck Showalter respects most: Posting up.
Not coincidentally, they're also winning.
The Mets will look to complete a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday afternoon, when the teams play each other for the final time this season.
Taijuan Walker (9-3, 3.45 ERA) is slated to start for the Mets against fellow right-hander T.J. Zeuch, who will be appearing in the majors for the first time in almost 14 months.
The Mets earned their fifth straight win Tuesday, when Carlos Carrasco tossed 6 2/3 solid innings and Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil each homered in a 6-2 win.
The National League East-leading Mets haven't trailed once in their winning streak, which began with three straight victories over the Atlanta Braves, the second-place team in the division. New York leads Atlanta by seven games.
"People use 'culture' so loosely now -- what does it mean?" Showalter said. "One of (the meanings of) culture (is) posting up -- being there for your teammates and being there for the team."
That might mean conserving energy for the game by taking batting practice inside, which the Mets did as the temperatures soared into the high 90s on Tuesday, or by Showalter ordering players to arrive late for a matinee game, as he planned to do Wednesday.
"Sometimes, more is not always better," Showalter said. "People talk about culture and all this other stuff. ... It's the responsibility that you take on. Don't just talk about it, but show (it) in your actions. And they've been able to do that."
The Reds will look to Zeuch -- who grew up in Mason, Ohio, about half an hour from the Reds' ballpark -- as they try to avoid being swept for the first time since the Los Angeles Dodgers won three straight June 21-23. Zeuch will be filling the rotation spot of right-hander Robert Dugger, who suffered a right shoulder injury in his start last Friday.
"I grew up going to Reds games watching Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, Ken Griffey Jr. -- all those guys -- and even Joey (Votto)," Zeuch told reporters. "Putting on the Reds' uniform for the first time is going to feel incredible."
Zeuch is 0-5 with a 6.70 ERA in 13 minor league starts this season in the Reds' and St. Louis Cardinals' organizations, but he had a 3.63 ERA in his five starts at Triple-A Louisville. He went 2-4 with a 4.59 ERA in 13 games (seven starts) in parts of three big league seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays, for whom he last pitched on June 17, 2021.
Zeuch has never opposed the Mets.
Walker took the defeat last Friday, when he gave up eight runs while failing to record an out in the second inning of the Mets' 9-6 loss to the Braves. The eight runs were the most he has allowed since he surrendered eight runs for the Seattle Mariners on May 2, 2015.
Walker is 1-1 with a 6.55 ERA in two career starts against the Reds.
--Field Level Media