If the New York Mets are to climb back into National League wild card contention, they’ll need Yoenis Cespedes to keep producing as they vie for a four-game series split in San Francisco against the Giants on Sunday night. Cespedes homered twice Saturday – and nearly hit a third – in his second game back after missing the previous 14 because of a strained right quadriceps, leading New York to a 9-5 victory and maintaining its flickering hopes alive of defending the NL pennant.
The Mets (61-62) are in the middle of a season-defining stretch, standing 4 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second wild card spot, and conclude their 10-game road trip with three against the Cardinals beginning Tuesday. New York struggles offensively, so Cespedes and his 24 home runs, 62 RBIs and .293 batting average – all team bests – are vital to the cause. San Francisco (68-55) enters Sunday one-half game ahead of Los Angeles in the NL West, but is 11-22 since the All-Star break and hasn’t won more than two straight during that stretch. The Mets’ Noah Syndergaard snapped a six-start winless streak (0-4, 3.78 ERA) while homering for the third time this season in his last start and opposes Jeff Samardzija, who has pitched well in his last two games following a three-game losing streak.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
Mets – CF J. Lagares (15-Day DL, thumb).
Giants – LF A. Pagan (Out Sunday, groin), RF M. Williamson (15-Day DL, shoulder), RP J. Osich (15-Day DL, forearm).
WEATHER REPORT: Partly cloudy conditions and temperatures in the upper 60’s are in the forecast for Sunday night in San Francisco. The humidity levels will be around 90 percent and there is a very slight 5 percent chance of rain. As usual at AT&T Park, there will be a 10-15 mph wind blowing out to right-center field.
WHAT SHARPS SAY:
“New York’s Noah Syndergaard has a solid 2.78 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in his 23 starts this season, but he has not pitched well in his past two starts, allowing 7 runs (5 earned) and 15 hits in just 10.2 innings of work. It will be interesting to see if Syndergaard gets back on track tonight against a San Francisco offense that has been weaker at home versus right-handed pitchers this season. The Giants have averaged just 4.4 runs per nine innings with a .259 batting average versus RHP, compared to 5.3 runs and .280 at home versus LHP.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.
HOT FAN BATTLE:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets RH Noah Syndergaard (10-7, 2.76 ERA) vs. Giants RH Jeff Samardzija (10-8, 4.24)
Syndergaard yielded four runs (two earned) and seven hits with eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of a 7-5 victory in Arizona on Aug. 16. The 23-year-old Texan permitted four Diamondbacks to steal a base, raising his total allowed to 40 – the most in baseball by 18 over Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson. Syndergaard is 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA in two starts versus San Francisco after yielding four runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 6-1 loss May 1.
Samardzija received a no-decision after yielding three runs and six hits with five strikeouts in six innings of the Giants’ 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The 31-year-old Indiana native rebounded from permitting 14 runs in 18 2/3 innings during his slide by allowing three hits in 5 2/3 frames of San Francisco’s 1-0 victory at Miami on Aug. 10. Jay Bruce has struck out 12 times in 34 at-bats while Cespedes has gone deep twice in 13 at-bats versus Samardzija, who is 0-3 with an 8.72 ERA in nine games (three starts) against New York after allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings of a loss while with Oakland in 2014.
* Mets are 2-14 in their last 16 games following a win.
* Giants are 1-5 in Samardzija’s last 6 starts.
* Over is 6-0 in Mets last 6 road games.
* Over is 5-0 in Syndergaard’s last 5 starts vs. National League West.
* Over is 7-0-1 in Giants’ last 8 home games.
* Over is 5-0 in Samardzija’s last 5 starts vs. a team with a losing record.
* Over is 6-0 in the last 6 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is favoring the New York Mets at a rate of 53 percent. Totals wagers are trending in the direction of Over 7.5 at 64 percent. View full consensus data here.