NEW YORK (AP) When the New York Mets introduced Kodai Senga at a news conference last December, the touted pitcher from Japan said he was looking forward to facing the Philadelphia Phillies.
One by one, he sent them right back to the dugout Tuesday night. Made 'em disappear like a ghost, you might even say.
Senga allowed one hit through seven dominant innings and Francisco Lindor homered to help the Mets beat the Phillies 2-0 in the first meeting this season between the NL East rivals.
“Obviously, I was very excited and also amped up to face them," Senga said through a translator. “But not only against the Phillies, but against the rest of the league I want to keep it up."
Eduardo Escobar added an RBI single and Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo robbed Nick Castellanos of a potential home run with a leaping catch at the fence, prompting Senga to put his hands on his head and fans to chant Nimmo's name.
Senga (5-3) struck out nine and permitted one baserunner - a soft single by Kody Clemens that fell in front of left fielder Tommy Pham in the third.
“We chased,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We haven’t seen him. ... When you see a guy the first time, even if it’s a rookie, sometimes it’s tough to deal with.”
With a crowd of 36,236 sometimes standing and roaring in anticipation, the rookie right-hander got six strikeouts with his diving, disappearing “ghost forkball” and set a career high for innings in his 10th major league start.
“When it comes out it looks just like a fastball and it's just, see you later,” Nimmo said. “He was unbelievable."
New York (28-27) has won six in a row at home and Senga has a 1.20 ERA in five starts at Citi Field, where fans count his strikeouts by hanging ghost posters behind the left-center fence.
“Pitching at home, we have a lot of great fans and I don't want to disappoint them,” Senga said, wearing a black cap with a ghost fork logo.
Adam Ottavino worked a hitless eighth, getting a huge lift when rookie Francisco Álvarez threw out fellow catcher J.T. Realmuto trying to steal second after a leadoff walk.
Realmuto was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned following a replay review that clearly showed an acrobatic tag by second baseman Jeff McNeil. It was the first caught stealing this season with Ottavino on the mound after 10 successful attempts by opponents.
“One of the big momentum changes in the game,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said.
David Robertson gave up a one-out single in the ninth before getting Bryson Stott to ground into a game-ending double play for his ninth save in 10 chances.
“That’s my type of game right there,” Lindor said. “I love it whenever we can play good defense and help the pitcher get out of innings - it’s fun. I like my home run, but I think Nimmo’s play was cooler.”
Philadelphia (25-29) got 6 2/3 encouraging innings from left-hander Ranger Suárez (0-2), who entered with a 9.82 ERA in his first three starts this year.
“He was fantastic, he really was,” Thomson said. “I thought he was outstanding.”
Lindor homered off Suárez leading off the fourth and Escobar greeted Connor Brogdon by poking an RBI single between two infielders with two outs in the seventh. Castellanos saved two more runs with a sliding catch in right-center to rob Nimmo.
“He came by and he said, `Now we're even,'” Nimmo said with a laugh. “And I said, `OK, that's fair, I guess.'"
AROUND THE HORN
New York pitched its fourth shutout of the season and improved to 14-0 when its starting pitcher goes at least six innings. ... Lindor's home run was his fourth in eight games. The Mets have gone deep in 13 consecutive games, their longest streak since 14 in a row in 2019. ... Philadelphia was shut out for the fifth time this year. The defending National League champions went 5-14 against the Mets last season.
Phillies: DH Bryce Harper received a planned rest to give him consecutive days off, including Monday's off day. ... 3B Alec Bohm was back in the lineup after sitting out Sunday night in Atlanta with hamstring tightness. ... LHP José Alvarado (elbow inflammation) is scheduled to throw batting practice on the field Wednesday. He could begin a rehab assignment after that and return to Philadelphia's bullpen following one or two minor league outings. ... 1B Darick Hall (sprained right thumb) and C Rafael Marchán (right hamate fracture) began rehab assignments with Class A Clearwater. Hall was the DH against Dunedin and went 2 for 4 with a walk. Marchán was 3 for 5 with three RBIs. ... RHP Nick Nelson (left glute) will throw batting practice Wednesday. Thomson said additional testing determined the injury was to Nelson's glute, not his hamstring.
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola (4-3, 4.59 ERA) was 0-4 with a 3.99 ERA in five starts versus the Mets last year, dropping him to 9-7 with a 3.30 ERA in 25 starts against them.
Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-2, 6.75) makes his third start Wednesday night since missing about a month with elbow inflammation and a bone spur. Carrasco is 2-1 with a 4.02 ERA in four career starts against the Phillies, who signed him at age 16 in 2003 and traded him to Cleveland in 2009 before he reached the majors.
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