Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets take on the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. Photo by Ray Stubblebine/UPI | License Photo
SAN FRANCISCO -- Two sub-.500 teams taking a different approach to September meet one more time with the season series on the line when the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants wrap up their three-game set Sunday afternoon.
Veterans Wilmer Flores, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier combined to produce an 11th-inning run for the Mets on Saturday, sending the Giants (68-69) back below .500 and into even more of a look-at-the-prospects mode for the final 25 games of the season.
One of the Giants' top young pitchers, right-hander Chris Stratton (9-7, 4.99 ERA), will duel Mets standout Noah Syndergaard (9-3, 3.51) in the series finale, with each team having won three times in the seven-game season series.
Stratton pitched against the Mets for the first time in his career on Aug. 21, limiting them to two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He did not get a decision in a 6-3 loss.
Michael Conforto's three-run homer off Giants reliever Tony Watson in a four-run eighth inning made the difference that night after Stratton left a 2-2 game in the seventh.
Stratton, a veteran of only 31 major league starts, rebounded to shut out the Arizona Diamondbacks for eight innings in a 2-0 win Monday.
Stratton might find himself pitching to a familiar batterymate, catcher Aramis Garcia, a teammate earlier this season at Triple-A Sacramento.
Garcia homered in his major league debut in Friday's 7-0 victory over the Mets.
Austin Slater, Alen Hanson and Chris Shaw, three other potential foundation pieces in the Giants' future, also have seen playing time in the New York series even though San Francisco technically remains alive in the National League West and NL wild-card races.
The Mets, meanwhile, were long ago left in the dust in the NL East, yet battled the young Giants with mostly veterans Saturday, including 34-year-old Jerry Blevins, the game's winning pitcher.
New York also summoned former standout third baseman David Wright from a minor league rehab in hopes that he can make his season debut this month.
Syndergaard will seek to become the Mets' first 10-game winner this season.
He pitched a 5-3 victory over the Giants on Aug. 22, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings, to run his career mark against San Francisco in four starts to 2-2 with a 3.51 ERA.
Like Syndergaard, Stratton has a chance to become the first Giants pitcher this season to reach 10 wins in a year in which ace Madison Bumgarner missed more than two months with a broken finger and Johnny Cueto was shelved on more than one occasion with neck and elbow ailments.
After the teams went scoreless into the seventh inning Friday night, it was no surprise Saturday's matchup went into extra innings.
The Giants lead the majors with 19 extra-inning games. Nine of their last 10 games have been decided by two or fewer runs.
The Mets, meanwhile, have gone extras 16 times this season, winning seven times.
Frazier's one-out sacrifice fly that scored Flores with the game-winner in the 11th Saturday delivered only the Mets' second run of the series. They've gone 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the 20 innings.