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Despite 11-inning win, Mets' offense fails starting pitcher again

Steven Matz dominates, striking out a career-high 11 batters in seven innings of one-run ball.

New York Mets' Wilmer Flores, right, is congratulated

New York Mets' Wilmer Flores, right, is congratulated by Michael Conforto after scoring on a sacrifice fly by Todd Frazier against the San Francisco Giants during the eleventh inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. The Mets won 2-1 in 11 innings. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) Photo Credit: AP/Jeff Chiu

SAN FRANCISCO — As the Mets contemplated their bigger-picture future and the option of subtracting from their homegrown rotation this summer, manager Mickey Callaway pleaded his case: Please don’t.

In Callaway’s mind, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are too good, and Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz are making strides too big, just to give up on it.

The reality has been underwhelming, but the ceiling remains tantalizing.

In the Mets’ 2-1, 11-inning win over the Giants on Saturday, they showed both sides.

Yes, the starters have immense potential. Matz cruised through seven innings of one-run ball, and in their past 14 games, the Mets have 10 quality starts and an MLB-best 1.67 ERA.

But as was the case Friday night with Wheeler, and as has been so often the case all year with deGrom, the offense did little to support the men on the mound. Todd Frazier’s 11th-inning sacrifice fly gave the Mets their second run in 20 innings and first lead since Wednesday.

What good is a strong rotation without an offense to back it up? Would it be worth it to remove a piece of the starting five if it means improving elsewhere?

In recent weeks, with nobody in particular leading the Mets’ baseball operations department, they decided to keep the rotation intact. When the Mets hire a new general manager this month or next, he’ll continue to contemplate those questions.

For now, the Mets’ rotation is rolling.

“They went through another stretch for about a month, month and a half, early in the season, where they dominated, and now they’re doing it again,” Callaway said. “Pitching, just like hitting, can be contagious. The more pitchers you have out there doing really good things, the better you’re going to be and you’re going to be able to get on a roll. That’s what we’re seeing right now.”

Matz, who struck out a career-high 11, was able to locate his fastball and was in control of all of his secondary pitches — a rare feat. He scattered three hits and allowed a walk.

“It was definitely the best I’ve seen him,” Callaway said.

After making his first September start since 2015, Matz agreed. San Francisco’s only run came in the fourth, when Evan Longoria homered to left-centerfield.

“To be out here this time of year, feeling healthy and having some success is huge,” Matz said. “You see Zack and Jake and what they’ve done recently, we kind of all build off each other, I think. I think it does help when you see those guys go out here and dominate like they do.”

Said Callaway: “When you have three pitches going like he did today and you can get them where you want to — and you have that fastball command that he had — it makes it really difficult on the hitter.”

The offense, meanwhile, again was hapless against an OK lefthander. This time it was Derek Holland, who held the Mets to one run in six innings. Tomas Nido, getting a rare start with Kevin Plawecki on paternity leave, had an RBI double in the fifth, the highlight of his two-hit day.

The Mets’ issue wasn’t so much capitalizing on scoring opportunities as it was creating them. They had only five at-bats with runners in scoring position and left six men on base. They are 1-for-11 with runners on second and/or third this series.

“We obviously had trouble against the lefties, but we battled all night long, our pitching kept us in the game,” Callaway said. “And when we needed to manufacture a run there — a big run — the last inning, we did it.”

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