The Mets dominated the Cardinals in their 8-0 win tonight. Lucas Duda hit his third home run in two games while driving in four runs and Daniel Murphy drove in three, but none of that really matters right now. What matters tonight is something that every single Mets fan has been waiting their whole life for. It took 51 seasons and over 8,000 games, but the joke is finally up; Johan Santana has thrown the first no-hitter in the history of the New York Mets. I can’t believe I just wrote that.
Before the game, Terry Collins spoke with the media and said that he was planning on limiting Santana to about 110 pitches in tonight’s ballgame. He had no idea, but he was about to go on the ride of his life. This would be a night that we saw Santana throw more pitches than he ever has in a Major League game (134), let alone it was on his surgically repaired left shoulder. Both Johan and Adam Wainwrightmatched zeroes for the first three innings, with the only blip for Santana being the two walks he allowed in the top of the 2nd. As he saw the offense take the lead in the bottom of the fourth, he started to gain steam. He was still keeping the Cardinal bats
quiet, but his pitch count was sky rocketing with the walks he was allowing.
It only took him 96 pitches to dispose of the Padres last weekend, but it took him that same amount of pitches to get through five innings. As a fan, I started to panic; I knew about that pitch count limit and how important Johan is to the Mets rotation for the rest of the season, but there was NO WAY Terry Collins was going to fool with this. Once he gives up a hit, sure, take him out. Until them, let ’em play. Thankfully, that’s exactly what he did.
It seems as if there are always one or two moments that ultimately make a no-hitter, and this game was no exception. In the top of the 6th, Carlos Beltran lined a ball down the right field line that was called foul by the third base umpire. However, after one replay, it was clear that the ball kicked up some of the chalk, but all the arguing in the world wouldn’t change that call. Beltran eventually grounded out on a one-hopper to Wright. Through the drizzle, the Baseball Gods flashed a smile on Citi Field. Then came the top of the 7th inning; I had walked out for a moment and when I walked back in, I saw the line drive coming off Yadier Molina‘s bat, and thought it was over with; there was no way Mike Baxter would be able to catch up to that bad boy. Thankfully, I was wrong again. Baxter somehow caught up to that ball, and ran full speed into the left field wall, with his shoulder taking most of the hit. He would eventually be helped off the field with what is now being called a shoulder contusion, but the no-hitter was still intact.
We go to the top of the 8th; Santana retired Tyler Greene and Shane Robinson for two quick outs, but while walking Rafael Furcal, his last change-up went haywire, prompting a visit to the mound from Terry Collins, accompanied by plenty of boos from the 27,000 fans in attendance. After the meeting was over, Johan obliged by retiring Beltran to end the inning. This was the first time a Met had taken a no-hitter into the 8th since John Maine did it in September of 2007 and the first time in 35 years that a Met pitcher had taken it into the 9th; no one had done so since Tom Seaver, who did so three times.
Would this franchise get burned again? Would fans be on the edge of their seat to watch yet another one-hitter, making that the 36th such performance in team history? Something felt special about tonight, it was in the air at Citi, and I could feel it an hour and a half away in my family’s living room in upstate New York. This just had to be it. Santana jogged out to the mound in the 9th, greeted by plenty of cheers. He retired Matt Holliday and Allen Craig reasonably quickly on weak liners, but then ran the count full to David Freese. What did Johan do? Went to his bread and butter, striking out Freese and send every Met fan into a state of shock. The final line for the Mets ace: 9 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts on 134 pitches.
When Omar Minaya pulled off the trade before the 2008 season to bring Santana to Flushing, we all knew we were getting a special pitcher, but we really had no idea how special until we saw what he’s gone through during his time here, and what he had to do to take the mound again. He threw his first no hitter in his 99th start as a New York Met, and he came into this year with one goal: to stay healthy. Coming off rare shoulder surgery that no one has come back from, no one was sure if he could recapture the magic he had in his first years with the Amazins. We saw him dominate against the Padres and thought he was back. Although he may have handled the Friars better, this performance takes the cake. Remember when I said that Johan is sometimes the sizzle and sometimes the steak? Well, he was both tonight.
It’s the Mets 51st season and 8,020th game as a franchise. Now, when someone asks which teams haven’t thrown a no-hitter yet, it’s only the Padres. Thank you, Johan, for making every Met fan feel alive tonight, and for being so gracious in your post-game interview with Kevin Burkhardt. When he said this is for us because it’s been such a long time that we’ve been waiting for a no-hitter, I just about cried.
Until the Mets win another World Championship, nothing will beat this feeling that I feel right now. Enjoy it, Mets fans; this actually happened.