The Mets haven’t been involved in many pitching duels this season, but that changed Tuesday night at Citi Field with their NL East foes from Philadelphia in town.
Kodai Senga, who was coming off one of his worst performances of the season, was masterful against the Philadelphia Phillies, out-dueling left-hander Ranger Suarez. Francisco Lindor hit his 10th home run of the season and the bullpen preserved a slim lead in the Mets’ 2-0 win in the first game of a three-game set.
Last time out, Senga (5-3) gave up three earned runs and walked five in a loss to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The five walks were a season-worst, but in eight of nine outings, he had walked at least three batters. This was his first appearance without a walk and it was his most efficient outing to date.
“It was fun to watch him execute and keep hitters guessing, big-league hitters guessing trying to figure it out whether he was going to throw inside or whether he was going to throw away, or bounce the split-finger fork,” Lindor said. “The ghost, I guess, I don’t even know what to call it. It was fun to watch him attack, attack, attack and get ahead in counts and win counts.”
The Japanese rookie pitched into the seventh inning for the first time in his Major League career. He one-hit the Phillies (25-29) through seven strong and struck out nine. The only allowed hit was a single to first baseman Kody Clemens in the top of the third.
Senga threw 100 pitches and nearly twice as many strikes compared to balls. His pitch efficiency was the best it’s been all season. He commanded his fastball to be able to set up the cutter and the forkball, which has proven to be a deadly out pitch.
“Good command,” said manager Buck Showalter. “He was establishing the fastball early, which I thought made them have to rush with the recognition of the forkball. When you don’t have to honor command of a fastball, it makes a pitch like that easier. There were a lot of them that appeared in the zone early in the delivery with the ball right out of his hand. He was impressive. That’s a good lineup.”
Lindor handled the scoring for the Mets (28-27), but it was Brandon Nimmo who was the unsung hero, making two fantastic catches in center field to keep Senga out of trouble.
Senga had faced only one over the minimum when Nick Castellanos came up in the fourth inning with one out and none on. He sent a cutter to deep left-center field. It was 102.5 MPH off the bat and it looked as though it was headed into the seats.
But Nimmo made a fantastic catch at the wall to rob Castellanos of extra bases, if not a home run.
In the bottom of the inning, Lindor hit one to nearly the same spot as Castellanos. Except this time it went the distance, going for a home run off Suarez (0-2).
“I liked my home run,” Lindor said. “But I think Nimmo’s play is cooler.”
Nimmo also ran down a sinking line drive by Trea Turner in the seventh to help Senga make it through the inning. Senga then struck out Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber to end a stellar outing.
Adam Ottavino set the heart of the Philadelphia order down in the eighth and got some elite defensive help from Francisco Alvarez and Jeff McNeil. J.T. Realmuto broke for second and Alvarez, the rookie catcher, threw a strike to McNeil, who laid down the tag with room to spare. Realmuto was initially called safe, but McNeil signaled to the dugout for a review. The Mets challenged the call and were proven correct when it was overturned.
David Robertson converted his ninth save of the season.
The Mets are 14-0 when their starting pitchers have gone six or more innings. Senga has been considerably better at home than on the road this season, boasting a 1.20 ERA in five starts at Citi Field. Senga, like many others who come to the Major Leagues from other countries, is still learning how to acclimate to a new lift with new challenges.
“I think part of it is the long travel that we have to go through. That’s an adjustment that I need to make,” he said. “Also, pitching at home, we have a lot of great fans here, I don’t want to disappoint them, I just want to win for them.”
The challenge for him now is to repeat this performance and repeat it on the road again next week.
“Senga has been outstanding all year long,” Lindor said. “He really changed everything in his life to come here. He’s going to have his time to get used to everything, whether it’s the mound or the baseballs, the food, the cars, the way he gets to the field — there are a lot of different things thrown in there. To see him coming out today and helping us get a big W, it’s huge.”
Source: Berkshire mont