Kodai Senga proving to be nearly untouchable at Citi Field after 1-hit gem vs. Phillies

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Kodai Senga Mets
Kodai Senga. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

QUEENS — Kodai Senga’s masterful one-hit, nine-strikeout, scoreless outing in the New York Mets’ 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night continues to cement the early notion that the 30-year-old right-hander is practically untouchable within the friendly confines of Citi Field. 

In what was the best start of his young MLB career after making the jump from Japan this winter, Senga lowered his home ERA to a remarkable 1.20 having allowed just four earned runs in 30 innings of work with 38 strikeouts, 14 hits allowed, and 14 walks. 

“Pitching at home, we have a lot of great fans here,” Senga said. “I don’t want to disappoint them and I just want to win games for us.”

That included zero free passes issued on Tuesday night for the first time with the Mets — he had walked three or more batters in eight of his previous nine starts this season — and nine strikeouts that consisted of six Phillies swinging and missing at his vaunted ghost forkball.

But it was an accurate fastball that laid the foundation for his gem.

“The fastball sets a lot of it up,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s the velocity. You have to hurry. You can’t cover both pitches when you have to honor both of them. When you have to honor both pitches, you have to pick one or the other and that’s what makes it tough.”

Kodai Senga Mets
New York Mets’ Kodai Senga pitches during the seventh inning of the team’s baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

“I think the fastball being on definitely plays a big part,” Senga added. “But also making sure to go in deep to the hitter so they’re not expecting the forkball or when they do, they’re not able to hit it.”

Senga’s ERA at Citi Field is now nearly five runs lower than his road mark, which sits at 6.12. Those 17 runs yielded in 25 innings of work came on 29 hits with 32 strikeouts and 17 walks. 

“I think part of the reason [for the road struggles] is the long travel that we have to go through,” Senga said. “That’s something that’s an adjustment that I need to make.”

It’s been a whirlwind of adjustments for the Citi Field ace over the last five months as he continues to acclimate to life in the United States and the differences between playing in Major League Baseball compared to Nippon Professional Baseball. 

“He changed everything in his life to come here,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “He was going to have his time to get used to the new mound, the baseballs, the food, the cars, the way he gets to the field. There’s a lot of different things.”

His next scheduled start is slated for Sunday’s homestand finale against the Toronto Blue Jays.

For more on Kodai Senga and the Mets, visit AMNY.com