June 06, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO -- The New York Mets will send ace Noah Syndergaard to the mound on Sunday in an attempt to split their four-game series with the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants will counter with 10-game winner Jeff Samardzija in the game that has been picked to be televised nationally by ESPN on Sunday night.

The Mets had lost four of five on their trip and were experiencing pitching issues before veteran Bartolo Colon helped turn things around with 6 1/3 strong innings in Saturday's 9-5 win.

The Giants had opened the series with 10-7 and 8-1 wins.

But that was before Yoenis Cespedes got his power swing working again.

After a 15-day stint on the disabled list and a one-hit return on Thursday, the slugger bombed a pair of home runs to highlight Saturday's win.

The first of the two home runs went 457 feet, one foot shy of the being the longest hit at AT&T Park this season.

"He makes such a big difference," Mets manager Terry Collins gushed after Saturday's win. "It's nice to have him back."

The Mets had three home runs in the game, giving them 29 in their last 20 contests. The Giants, meanwhile, have allowed 47 homers in their 33 games since the All-Star break, the second-most in the National League.

Neither starting pitcher in the series finale has had any success against Sunday's opponent in his career.

Syndergaard has faced the Giants twice and lost both games, allowing eight runs in 11 2/3 innings. Neither of those outings were at AT&T Park, site of Sunday's start.

The 6.17 ERA is Syndergaard's highest among teams against which he's started at least twice.

The second-year standout can expect the Giants to attack him where he's weakest -- holding baserunners.

The Giants have gotten back in a base-stealing mode since acquiring Eduardo Nunez from the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline. San Francisco has 11 steals in 15 attempts in August after totaling nine all of last month.

Syndergaard is on pace to challenge the all-time record for most steals allowed in a season. He's allowed a major-league-high 40, which is two-thirds of the way to Dwight Gooden's record of 60, set in 1990.

The Giants probably will go Sunday without their hottest hitter, and one of their best base-stealers, Angel Pagan. The ex-Met experienced tightness in his right groin while chasing a fly ball in Saturday's game and had to be pulled in the fourth inning.

"We had it checked out and he's fine," Giants manager Bruce Bochy reported after the game. "He's probably going to need a day (off), and we think he'll be OK."

Samardzija has struggled even more against the Mets than Syndergaard has against San Francisco. He has faced New York nine times in his career, three times as a starter, and has come away with an 0-3 record and 8.72 ERA.

The record is Samardzija's worst against all opponents; the ERA is his second-highest among clubs against which he has started two more times.

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