Pete Alonso homers again, Kodai Senga strong as Mets down Marlins 5-2

Kodai Senga Mets Marlins
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

QUEENS — It’s almost becoming easy to expect what to get from Kodai Senga as he navigates the beginning portions of his MLB career with the Mets. 

In his second-ever start and in his Citi Field debut, the 30-year-old righty posted his second consecutive outing in which he allowed just one run on three hits against the Miami Marlins in a 5-2 Mets victory on Saturday evening.

“The biggest part is I can throw a strike when I want to throw a strike,” Senga said of what made his day a successful one. “I can manage the count and control it.”

Senga, now 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA, also posted six strikeouts — four of them coming on the ghost forkball and one each coming on his fastball and cutter. Twelve of Senga’s 14 strikeouts in the majors have come on that mystic forkball that has become the talk of baseball. 

“I think [my secondary pitches] are very important to my mix,” Senga said of his ability to work in his cutter. “It really makes my fastball and forkball stand out.”

He was supported by the red-hot Pete Alonso, who hit his fourth home run in his last three games with a two-run shot in the fifth to jumpstart the Mets’ sputtering offense, and Eduardo Escobar, who finally broke out of a 2-for-26 slump to start the season with a two-run round-tripper of his own to break things open in the sixth.

The win ensured that the Mets (5-4) took their second series out of three this season while improving to 4-1 against the Marlins (3-6). 

Senga was far more efficient in his second start compared to a laborious, 36-pitch first inning in his debut down in Miami. He struck out five of the first eight batters he faced over the opening two innings, one looking the fastball and four on the ghost fork (three swinging) on just 35 pitches.

“I was able to prepare well and my legs felt normal,” Senga said as he was able to round up his nerves in front of the home crowd.

For a second-straight afternoon, the Mets’ first run of the game came via the walk when Rogers issued a bases-loaded free pass to the birthday boy Jeff McNeil with two outs in the first inning. Mark Canha, who drew an RBI walk amid Friday’s walk-fest, extended first to load them up with a check-swing infield single following a Brandon Nimmo hit-by-pitch and an Alonso walk. 

Pete Alonso Mets
New York Mets’ Pete Alonso hits a two run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, April 8, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Alonso gave Senga and the Mets some breathing room in the fifth when — after a Francisco Lindor infield single — he smashed a two-out, 3-2 changeup from Rogers over the left-field fence for his fifth home run of the season and his fourth round-tripper in his last three games.

It was the Mets’ first hit of the day that left the infield after their first three against Rogers were infield singles. 

“It’s honestly just not giving in and just staying confident and trusting myself,” Alonso said of his hot streak. “I’m letting pitches come into my zone and not necessarily trying to force anything. I think I’m doing a really good job of not giving in.”

Jazz Chisholm got the Marlins on the board in the top of the sixth, searing a 1-1 offering from Senga over the right-field wall for his second homer of the season. Despite allowing a pair of walks that ultimately saw Luis Arraez standing on third, Senga got Avisail Garcia to ground out to get out of the sixth and end his day on a high note.

Escobar got it right back for Senga, and then some, in the bottom of the frame. The struggling third baseman who was robbed of a single in the second on a diving catch and had a deep fly ball caught at the wall in left in the fourth, got all of a Huascar Brazoban sinker, going the other way and out of the park for a two-run shot to finally open his ledger in 2023 and make it 5-1.

“When you get that result where you hit a home run, you get excited because you want to appreciate that moment,” Escobar, who pumped his arms and let out a scream while rounding second, said. “Now you have to continue to go out there and continue to work so we can get consistent results.”

With Senga’s day done, a bullpen combination of Drew Smith and Brooks Raley loaded the bases before the latter allowed an RBI single to Arraez to make it a three-run game. With the bases still loaded, John Curtiss came in to coax an inning-escaping pop-out to Miami DH Jorge Soler.

Senga Mets Marlins
Fans cheer for New York Mets pitcher Kodai Senga as he walks off the field after the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, April 8, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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