Christopher Morel's historic start to his season has been a bright spot amid an extended dismal stretch for the Chicago Cubs.
Meanwhile, the New York Mets' recent road struggles continue to linger.
Morel looks to homer in a sixth straight game when the Cubs try for a second consecutive victory, and series win, over the visiting Mets on Wednesday night.
Since making his 2023 debut on May 9, Morel has homered nine times in 12 games. He's only the fourth player since 1901 to accomplish that feat. He tied a club record by becoming the first Cub to homer in five straight since Sammy Sosa (1998) with a solo drive during a 7-2 win over New York on Tuesday - Chicago's 10th win in the last 30 games.
"He's hitting it pretty dang hard and pretty far when he makes contact," Chicago manager David Ross said of Morel, who's batting .367 with 15 RBIs this season. "He's a big energy piece for us. Obviously, what he's doing is pretty amazing."
Trying to help the Cubs win two straight for just the third time since April 20, Morel is likely to get his first look at scheduled Mets starter Kodai Senga (4-2, 3.77 ERA), who was slated to pitch in Tuesday's series opener but was pushed back a day to remain on extra rest - something the Japanese right-hander has been given during his first major-league season.
Senga is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA in four home starts; but, since allowing a run in 5 1/3 innings at Miami in his first 2023 road outing, he is 1-1 with a 7.98 ERA in three road games, and opponents have hit .323 in those games.
Senga should feel confident after he yielded a run, three hits and three walks and struck out 12 over six innings against MLB-leading Tampa Bay, at home on Wednesday.
"That's his best command, and I hope it's a sign of him settling in a little bit," New York manager Buck Showalter said.
Pete Alonso clubbed his MLB-leading 18th homer, and fifth in seven games, on Tuesday, when the Mets' five-game winning streak ended with their 10th loss in 13 road contests. Alonso is 1-for-2 with a double against scheduled Chicago starter Marcus Stroman (3-4, 3.05), a former Met and Long Island native.
The right-hander allowed a run, three hits and a walk in six innings of a 10-1 win at Philadelphia on Friday. It was a needed bounce-back for Stroman, who yielded season highs of six runs and seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings at Minnesota on May 14.
Stroman went 14-15 with a 3.21 ERA in 44 starts for the Mets, who acquired him in July 2019. Stroman sat out the COVID-shortened 2020 season, then pitched a complete season for New York in 2021.
Last season with Chicago, he allowed a run and a hit and walked two while striking out six through 4 1/3 innings during a 2-1, 11-inning home loss to the Mets on July 16.
New York's Francisco Lindor is a career .286 hitter vs. Stroman, while teammate Tommy Pham is 5-for-8 against him.
New York pitchers have a 5.21 ERA in the last 13 road games.
--Field Level Media