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MLB wild card series schedule gets underway Friday

Four Games 1 to open the playoffs

Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners practice on the eve of their American League Wild Card series Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

While the Dodgers don’t play until Tuesday, the MLB playoffs will start without them this weekend. A quartet of best-of-three wild card series begins on Friday, providing at least two and likely three days of baseball to entertain us through the interim.

From the Dodgers’ perspective, the series that matters most is the Mets hosting the Padres, with the winner of that No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup advancing to face the Dodgers in the Division Series. It’s not a perfect analogy, but New York this year most closely represents Los Angeles last year, a team with triple-digit wins who lost their division by a razor-thin margin, forced to do a little extra before getting into the divisional round.

Mets-Padres occupies the latest time slot among all four wild card series on Friday, with Game 1 starting at 5:07 p.m. PT, 8:07 p.m. at Citi Field. A series of wonderful pitching matchups begins with a pair of old friends starting on the mound in the series opener. Max Scherzer starts for the Mets, with Yu Darvish going for the Padres.

All three games of Mets vs. Padres will be televised by ESPN, with the usual ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ crew of Karl Ravech, David Cone, and Eduardo Perez on the call plus reporter Buster Olney. The ESPN family of networks has television rights to the wild card round as part of their contract, with games this weekend set for ESPN, ESPN2, and even ABC.

The wild card round is a best-of-three affair, with the entire series in the home park of the higher seed. For the Padres, Phillies, Rays, or Mariners to earn a playoff game at home, they’ll need to win their wild card series on the road first.

Here is the schedule for Friday.

Rays at Guardians

Game 1, 9:07 a.m. PT
Shane McClanahan vs. Shane Bieber
TV: ESPN (Jon Sciambi, Doug Glanville, Jesse Rogers)
Streaming: Watch ESPN

Phillies at Cardinals

Game 1, 11:07 a.m. PT
Zach Wheeler vs. José Quintana
TV: ABC (Michael Kay, Alex Rodriguez, Alden Gonzalez)
Streaming: Watch ESPN

Mariners at Blue Jays

Game 1, 1:07 p.m. PT
Diego Castillo vs. Alek Manoah
TV: ESPN (Dave Fleming, Jessica Mendoza, Tim Kurkjian, Coley Harvey)
Streaming: Watch ESPN

Padres at Mets

Game 1, 5:07 p.m. PT
Yu Darvish vs. Max Scherzer
TV: ESPN (Karl Ravech, David Cone, Eduardo Perez, Buster Olney)
Streaming: Watch ESPN