Mets look to ignite sluggish offense in series finale vs. Jays

Field Level Media

June 04, 2023 at 11:09 am.

The visiting Toronto Blue Jays will be dealing with a “ghost forkball” when they vie for a three-game series sweep of the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon.

The ghost forkball is a pitch used by Mets right-hander Kodai Senga (5-3, 3.44 ERA), who will get the start on Sunday.

The pitch has accounted for 39 of the 70 strikeouts Senga has in 10 starts this season, according to information provided by the Mets.

Senga, who has yet to face the Blue Jays, will oppose left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (6-2, 4.47) on Sunday. Kikuchi has yet to pitch against the Mets in his career.

The start on Sunday will be the first for Senga on four days of rest. So far this season he has pitched once a week, which was his routine in his native Japan.

Other than his first start this season, Senga has pitched on five days’ rest seven times, with six days’ rest and eight days’ rest one time each.

“He’s operating close to 100 percent as anybody could be this time of year,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said.

Pitching has not been a problem for the Mets in losing the first two games of the series. They have dropped 3-0 and 2-1 decisions.

“Obviously, we’ve had trouble scoring runs,” Showalter said. “They’re pitching well, but we’re not swinging the bat very well.”

The Mets were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base Saturday. Among the notable scufflers is shortstop Francisco Lindor, who was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and is in a 0-for-15 funk. He stuck out to end the fifth with a runner at second base and was booed by the crowd.

“They’re expressing their frustration,” Lindor said. “And I hear them, I hear them. I’m right there with them. It’s got to get better.

“These past two games, I haven’t gotten it done with people on base. If we would’ve gotten the W today, I would feel much better.”

The Blue Jays have not been much better. They were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base Saturday.

The winning hit was a double by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. against David Robertson on a 1-2 curveball with two outs in the ninth inning.

“I just didn’t make a good finishing pitch,” Robertson said. “He’s a good hitter. Wish I could’ve gotten it down a little more and maybe get a swing and miss or at least a softer ground ball, maybe something (third baseman Brett) Baty could field.”

First base was open with struggling Cavan Biggio up next, but Showalter elected to pitch to Guerrero.

“Just trusted Robbie there,” Showalter said. “I just have a lot of confidence in him once he got ahead there … just got a firm ground ball hit where we couldn’t catch it.”

Guerrero has been one of the Blue Jays’ hitters who hasn’t quite lived up to expectations recently. He is hitting .285 for the season but .273 in three games this month, with no homers and one RBI.

“He’s been grinding, there’s been some really good swings, there’s been some hard-hit balls,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. “And I think that results aside, I think the time of the game that it was for us and what it meant for the outcome of it is going to be big for us.”

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