Chase Utley's questionable slide that broke then-New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada's leg became the lasting image of the 2015 postseason and caused some tension for the remainder of an NL division series that the Mets eventually won in five games over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The clubs will meet for the first time since that playoff matchup when New York visits Dodger Stadium to open a four-game set Monday night.
Utley's attempt to break up a double play in Game 2 resulted in Tejada's injury and major rule changes for such situations. The Mets (19-11) didn't allow that play to affect them and wound up advancing to the World Series.
They're making strides to get back there and jumped into sole possession of the NL East lead for the first time this season after beating San Diego 4-3 on Sunday. Yoenis Cespedes homered three times in the four-game series and has six with 16 RBIs over his last 11.
“It's only May,” manager Terry Collins said. “We've got a long way to go.”
Steven Matz appears ready for the grind. Matz (4-1, 2.83 ERA) has a 0.67 ERA while winning his last four starts, a stretch that followed him giving up seven runs in his first outing April 11. He's tossed 13 2/3 scoreless innings over his last two and pitched into the eighth Wednesday for his longest start of the season to beat Atlanta 8-0.
“What he did (Wednesday) is how I think you pitch,” Collins said after Matz allowed only two hits. “You get the ball, get on the mound, throw it. It keeps you in a better rhythm. You're not thinking about anything but throwing strikes.”
The left-hander held the Dodgers (16-15) scoreless through six innings in July, but he gave up three runs in five innings of a 3-1 loss in Game 4 of the NLDS.
Scott Kazmir (2-2, 5.68) was pitching in the playoffs for Houston at that time before joining the Dodgers this offseason. His struggles continued Tuesday as he gave up four runs in 6 2/3 innings of a 10-5 win at Tampa Bay. Run support bailed him out after he gave up two more homers, bringing his total to seven in 31 2/3 innings.
Kazmir has allowed at least four runs in four of his six outings.
“I was hitting my spots for the most part,” he said. “Still, I'm hard on myself and feel like there's a lot more improvement that I need to address.”
Kazmir, who began his career in the Mets' organization, last faced New York on Aug. 19, 2014, when he gave up a solo homer in six innings of a 6-2 victory while with Oakland.
Cespedes is 0 for 6 with five strikeouts in his career against Kazmir, who will try to help Los Angeles win three straight for the first time since April 13-15. It had dropped eight of 10 before winning the final two of a three-game series at Toronto over the weekend.
Joc Pederson homered and Howie Kendrick had a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth as the Dodgers won Sunday's finale 4-2. They're batting .261 over their last five after hitting .154 in their previous five.
“Our at-bats are getting better, the quality throughout the lineup,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Before that, there was a lot of inconsistency.”
Yasiel Puig was hitting .132 over his previous nine before singling as a pinch-hitter Sunday. He's expected to be back in the starting lineup for this contest.