NEW YORK — Tim Locastro has set records and received praise for his individual play, but the Auburn native is focused on one goal: Helping the Arizona Diamondbacks qualify for the playoffs.
The Diamondbacks (75-71) are in the midst of a four-game series against the New York Mets. After Wednesday's game, the team is 2 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers for the final National League wild card spot.
Locastro, who was the lead-off hitter and starting left fielder for the Diamondbacks against the Mets Wednesday, said in an interview that each of these September games is a playoff game for his team.
"This is exactly where you want to be: in the playoff hunt," he said. "Every game matters."
The Diamondbacks won 11 of 12 games from late August through the first week of September. But four consecutive losses, including three to the Mets at Citi Field, have allowed other teams to gain ground in the wild card race.
One of those teams is the Mets, which are two games behind the Cubs for the second National League wild card spot.
With several teams battling for that final playoff berth, the Diamondbacks need wins. Locastro said his club's goal is to win "every game down the stretch."
"That's our attitude going forward and I think everybody in here has that same attitude," he added.
Before the game, the Diamondbacks and Mets paused to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
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Locastro, who wore a New York Police Department cap during pregame warmups and a ceremony before the first pitch, was 9 years old at the time of the attacks that killed 2,977 people.
One memory he shared is that he and his family attended a New York Yankees game against the Boston Red Sox two days before the attacks. A review of the Yankees' 2001 schedule confirms there was a game against the Red Sox on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2001.
"The ceremony before the game will be emotional, especially in this city," Locastro said. He noted that he saw sports-related posts online and on social media, including videos of former Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa running out to right field waving an American flag and Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza's go-ahead home run in the Mets' first game back after the 9/11 attacks.
BACK IN NEW YORK
It's another homecoming for Locastro, who grew up 265 miles away from Citi Field.
In seven professional seasons, he didn't play in New York until July when the Diamondbacks played the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. He had dozens of family members and friends who attended that two-game series.
This time around, the Diamondbacks are playing four games in New York. Locastro's mother, Colleen, and his girlfriend Jenn will be at Citi Field for the entire series. Before Wednesday's game, he said he'll have his grandparents, aunts, uncles and more friends in the crowd.
"You always like playing in front of your family and friends," he said.
Locastro's last start in New York was memorable. In his final at-bat against the Yankees, he hit his first major league home run.