Two left-handers with something to prove go head-to-head Sunday afternoon, when the New York Mets and the host San Francisco Giants complete their deadlocked season series.
The Mets erased the sting of walk-off defeats the previous two nights with a powerful offensive display in an 11-4 shellacking of the Giants on Saturday afternoon to even the season series at 3-3.
The two hot teams, who had come into the series on four- (Mets) and five-game (Giants) winning streaks, combined for 15 runs and 26 hits Saturday after totaling just six runs and 31 hits across 26 frames in extra-inning affairs the previous two nights.
The clubs combined for six homers in the daylight Saturday, with four smacked by the Mets in snapping the Giants' seven-game winning streak.
Struggling lefty Steven Matz hopes for more of the same from his teammates Sunday when he attempts to earn the Mets a series split.
The 28-year-old responded to a reinstatement to the starting staff after a demotion to the bullpen with an improved effort in a 3-2 win at Minnesota on Tuesday.
After having been banished to the relief corps following two poor outings in mid-June, Matz re-emerged to allow the Twins just two runs on five hits in four innings.
He's pitched well against the Giants in his career, going 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts. He threw seven strong innings, allowing one run and striking out 11, in his only previous outing at San Francisco, a 2-1 Mets win last September in which he did not get a decision.
Another Met riding a bit of a roller coaster in the series has been rookie slugger Pete Alonso, who homered in Thursday's loss following a 3-for-30 slump since the All-Star break.
Mets manager Mickey Callaway kept his All-Star out of the starting lineup on Saturday, but then hand-picked him a pinch-hitting spot and watched as Alonso blasted a pitch from left-hander Derek Holland 444 feet for a three-run homer.
"Competitors don't always want to admit things, and we understand that, and we want them to be like that," Callaway explained of the benching before the game. "So we'll take it out of their hands every now and then, and let him get some swings in the cage (and) relax a little bit."
Alonso, who has hit 12 of his home runs off lefties this season in just 109 at-bats, will take his cracks at another Giants left-hander, rookie Conner Menez, in the series finale.
The 24-year-old will make his major league debut in place of Drew Pomeranz, who manager Bruce Bochy announced Saturday will pitch out of the bullpen for the time being.
"He earned this call-up," Bochy reporters of Menez, emphasizing the move as a prospect getting a chance rather than a veteran getting a demotion. "Conner has done a really nice job this year, going back to spring training."
Menez has pitched at both Double- and Triple-A this season, going 5-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 18 outings (17 starts).
Despite winning two of three in the series, the Giants have been held to a total of eight runs after having scored 115 in their previous 14 games.
San Francisco has saved six of its eight runs for the final inning, getting two in the last of the 16th in Thursday's win, one in the last of the 10th to end Friday's victory and three meaningless tallies on home runs by Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski in the last of the ninth Saturday.
--Field Level Media
Mets' Matz seeks continued resurgence vs. Giants
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