Friday night at Citi Field was must-see television.
There was plenty of media attention from Japan as well as the wider baseball world, and although the Mets fell 3-1, manager Buck Showalter thought both players represented themselves and the game well.
“The game of baseball in general is proud of both those guys,” he said. “[Senga] doesn’t get caught up in that type of moment. …It was a good night for baseball. They presented themselves well.”
Coincidentally, the Mets held Japanese Heritage Night on Friday which added to the atmosphere at the stadium. It was also an atmosphere Senga admits gave him something extra tonight.
“I know it was Japanese Heritage Night for the Mets tonight as well. I was picked up a little bit more,” Senga said through the team interpreter after the game. “I don’t know if it was a special day, per se, but it was a good experience.”
When asked about whether there was any “added juice” when he faced Ohtani, the rookie downplayed it a bit since they’ve faced each other in Japan before.
“He’s a very special player,” Senga said of Ohtani. “That in itself makes everything special. I’ve faced him a few times in Japan and I was excited to face him here.
“The fact that he’s an outstanding hitter hasn’t changed [from Japan],” Senga added. “The exit velo, the stuff that he hits is incredible and has been incredible in Japan, has been incredible here. Maybe even more so in Japan but he’s just an outstanding player.”
Senga and Ohtani faced off three times Friday night. The first at-bat saw Senga throw four non-competitive pitches to the slugger as he drew a walk. Showalter says that Senga was trying to get Ohtani to swing at something out of the zone, and that he wasn’t nervous.
The Mets skipper also complemented Senga as a pitcher that doesn’t let his ego and emotions get in the way of him doing what’s best for the team.
The 30-year-old righty simply said he didn’t have his command in the early going.
“I wasn’t able to control myself as well,” he said. “Not just that first at-bat against him but just in general. I couldn’t control the way I wanted to.”
Senga would navigate in and out of trouble for the first three innings, but would face trouble in the third. In that inning, Ohtani would rocket a double 115 mph off the bat into right field to start an Angels rally. Los Angeles would push across two runs in that inning, the only runs Senga gave up on Friday.
The Mets starter would settle down and get through 6.2 innings while striking out 10 batters. He would walk Ohtani in the presumptive AL MVP’s third at-bat, though.
Despite Ohtani getting the better of Senga on this night, the righty wishes Ohtani — who has a torn UCL — a speedy recovery and hopes to catch up with him this weekend while the Angels are in town.
Ohtani, a pending free agent, could become the highest-paid player in history with the Mets having an eye on his services. Whether this injury affects his pending contract is yet to be seen.
Source: Yahoo Sports