The Mets arrived home on Memorial Day from a six-game road trip where they went 2-4 against two teams below .500, dropping the last two games after scoring a combined 17 runs.
So, a day off Monday was not only welcomed but likely needed.
They returned to action Tuesday night by opening up a three-game set with the NL East rival Philadelphia Phillies and Kodai Senga on the mound, and boy did he deliver.
The Japanese phenom went a career-high seven innings – only the second time a Mets pitcher has gone at least seven innings this season – and put up zeros all night, giving up just one hit and striking out nine.
“It was fun watching him execute, keep big-league hitters guessing,” Francisco Lindor said. “It was fun to watch him attack, attack, attack and get ahead in the counts and win counts.”
In 10 career starts in the majors, Tuesday night’s was Senga’s best one to date as he lowered his ERA to 3.44 and now has 70 strikeouts in 55.1 innings while making every scheduled start for a team with a starting rotation that has been plagued with injuries and inconsistencies.
Lindor had a hand in the win, as well, hitting a home run in the fourth inning off Ranger Suarez that broke a scoreless tie that proved to be the game-winner.
“Every home run means a lot, but whenever it’s to take the lead and [it] turned out to be the winning run it feels good,” he said. “It feels good to contribute, it feels good to be part of a good W.”
Normally, stellar pitching and timely hitting are enough to get a win, but Brandon Nimmo’s defense in center field helped secure the victory, too, and cannot be forgotten.
In the top of the fourth inning, with the score tied at 0-0, Nick Castellanos hit one of Senga’s few mistakes well and drove it toward the seats in center field, but Nimmo tracked it and made a leaping catch to rob Castellanos of a home run.
“I knew that there was gonna be a possibility so when I got to the track and I was kind of able to start timing it up, that’s when I was saying ‘okay if I can just time this right, then I’ll get it’,” Nimmo said. “Everything has to work out perfectly and that timing has to be just right, so luckily I was able to time that up and get it right before it hits those metal bars and bounces all over the place.
"I was really glad I was able to help Kodai, he did so well today. We didn’t give him many chances to help him out, but glad to help him out in that situation.”
Senga was glad, too.
“Obviously it was an amazing catch,” he said through a translator. “Not only me, but I think the rest of the pitching staff were saved by Nimmo’s defense a lot of times so I really appreciate him being in center field, patrolling it.”
Lindor, a defensive whiz in his own right, added: “That’s my type of game right there so I love it. I love it whenever we can play good defense and help the pitcher get out of the innings, it’s fun. I like my home run, but I think Nimmo’s play was cooler. It’s just fun to watch the guys do their things.”
Meanwhile, Senga has now made half of his starts this season at Citi Field and has pitched to a miniscule 1.20 ERA in Queens. However, on the road Senga’s ERA jumps to 6.12.
He was asked about what he thinks has been the difference between his starts at home and on the road and he offered a straightforward answer.
“I think part of the reason is the long travel that we have to go through and that’s an adjustment that I need to make,” Senga said. “Also, pitching at home we have a lot of great fans here and I don’t want to disappoint them and I just want to win games for us.”