Tommy Henry duels with Kodai Senga, D-backs blow save in loss to Mets

Jul 5, 2023, 11:50 PM

Francisco Alvarez Mets...

Francisco Alvarez #4 of the New York Mets reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning at Chase Field on July 05, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. Mets won 2-1. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Tommy Henry did his job for the Diamondbacks through six scoreless innings on Wednesday night. Kodai Senga, meanwhile, was mostly untouchable in eight frames for the Mets.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo felt Wednesday’s matchup would take one or two runs to win, and with two outs in the ninth, it appeared he’d be right.

Christian Walker belted a solo shot in the seventh to give Arizona a 1-0 lead, and Andrew Chafin had the Mets down to their final strike with a 3-2 count to 21-year-old catcher Francisco Alvarez.

But the rookie blasted a sinker over the wall in right, jumping up and down and flexing as he rounded first base. The wheels then came off, as a Brett Baty single and Mark Canha triple gave New York the lead.

Arizona fell 2-1, dropping its third straight game and its fourth out of the last five series played at Chase Field.

“This game can be brutal,” Lovullo said postgame. “We didn’t get it done. It’s rough, it’s very rough because we all care and we want to win, we’re built to win … this is a frustrating moment for everybody here in that clubhouse.”

Wednesday’s game was a battle between the two starting pitchers, but it also highlighted two recent cracks within the D-backs.

The offense has sputtered in the past week, something Walker felt confident will turn around. The other was the back end of the bullpen not holding a lead, as three of their last five losses were recorded by relievers, two of which were blown saves in the ninth.

Starting with Henry, Arizona received yet another stellar outing from a young arm.

The D-backs had won six straight games started by Henry entering Wednesday and were moments away from extending that streak. Individually, he has a 1.48 ERA in his last four starts (24.1 innings).

His line on Wednesday was six innings, no runs, two hits, four walks and two strikeouts.

“It was solid, I felt like we made pitches when we had to,” Henry said. “Wasn’t the prettiest at time but sometimes that’s how it has to go.”

Henry didn’t produce many swings and misses but only allowed two singles and didn’t run into much trouble beyond a shaky fifth inning.

He got ahead early, starting 10 of the first 12 at-bats with a strike.

The southpaw walked a pair in the fifth with one out and fell behind lead-off man Brandon Nimmo 3-0 before fighting back in the count to force a popup. He escaped unscathed.

“I think naturally that comes with time and experience up here, figuring out how to get outs however the game is calling for it,” Henry said. “Didn’t necessarily have the curveball and at times just had to trust the defense to make good plays behind me and tonight it worked out.”

Henry exited at only 87 pitches, as Lovullo felt he had the matchups in the bullpen to reach the 27th out.

On the other side, Senga evaded bat after bat with 18 swings and misses and a career-high 12 strikeouts. The rookie from Japan only walked one batter.

The D-backs struck two balls in play with a 90 mph exit velocity through six innings, both outs.

Before Walker’s home run, Senga allowed three singles: two flares and ground ball off the glove of second baseman Jeff McNeil.

His ability to mix pitch shapes and speeds kept hitters uncomfortable.

He leaned on his cutter, a fastball that reached 99 mph and the “Ghost” forkball that produced 10 whiffs on 15 swings and four strikeouts. The forkball looks like a fastball out of the hand and drops.

Arizona’s starting 5-9 hitters (Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Jake McCarthy, Carson Kelly, Nick Ahmed and Alek Thomas) combined for a 1-for-14 night with seven punch outs.

Ketel Marte was out of the lineup with a sore back, but he appeared late as a pinch hitter and is penciled into Thursday’s lineup, Lovullo said. The D-backs are 5-6 when Marte does not start this year.

Walker said he only saw cutters from Senga on Wednesday, but one hovered middle-in which he shot 434 feet to left.

“Some were true cutters, some were slider-ish, some felt like just pulled heaters, so even if I’m sitting on cutter, which one do I sit on?” Walker said. “I ended up trying to get something close to me … I was comfortable getting something close to me and knowing everything was going to be funneling back over the plate.”

The D-backs scored eight runs over the last three games with four solo shots, a two-run homer and two walks with the bases loaded.

They had a stretch of eight straight games with at least five runs in June but have only reached that mark twice in the past seven contests.

“Maybe we’re trying to do a little bit too much,” Lovullo said. “We faced a good pitcher today, I don’t want to discount that. But to get to where we’re going to, we have to find a way to win games like this and maybe get him out of the game sooner.

“He was very effective, he was keeping us off-balanced. … We just gotta relax and play our game, get guys in via the walk, patient approaches and someone come up and slug.”

Bullpen miscues

The D-backs entered Wednesday night averaging 0.60 runs allowed per ninth inning, according to Stathead. That’s a 5.42 runs per nine innings.

Lovullo turned to Scott McGough, who had been getting more save opportunities lately, earlier to take on the top of the order. He collected four outs with two strikeouts.

The manager said he is not concerned with the bullpen, noting he’d love a lockdown closer but they have to keeping playing matchups.

“There’s a lot of relievers who are giving up runs late and games are flipped in the eighth and ninth innings, it happens to everybody,” Lovullo said. “I’d love if we had a lockdown, Mariano Rivera type but we don’t. We have to find a way to mix and match and we’ll continue to do that.”

The bullpen allowed the fewest hits in MLB since June 24 entering Wednesday, as it has been an effective unit most of the time. But extra-base hits have haunted the ‘pen in three of the last five losses, including Tuesday’s 8-5 defeat.

The D-backs went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth off Mets closer David Robertson, helped by some fortune. A Corbin Carroll sharp grounder up the middle ricocheted off Robertson right to first baseman Pete Alonso for the out.

Go figure.

Up next

Ryne Nelson looks to continue his momentum to avoid the sweep. He’s allowed only five earned runs in his last three starts.

The Mets will turn to veteran RHP Carlos Carrasco (5.94 ERA).

First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and 

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