Game Recap: Johan Santana Struggles Again as Mets Fall 7-6

By Matt Musico

On June 1st, Johan Santana became the first Mets pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the organization’s 50-year history. Tonight, he made some history that he’d rather not be a part of; he’s the first New York pitcher in ten years to give up at least six earned runs in three straight starts. The offense chipped away in an effort to come back, but it wasn’t enough as they fell short in the ninth.

Mets Offensive Highlights:

New York started clawing back in the bottom of the first after immediately going down in the top of the inning. David Wright and Ike Davis pulled the Mets within one run with each of them driving runs in with sacrifice flies. They didn’t score again until the fifth, which was the start of three straight innings with at least one run scored. Ruben Tejada singled and came around to score on Daniel Murphy‘s first of two doubles last night. In the sixth, Andres Torres and Josh Thole both walked, and Scott Hairston dumped a single  into left center to bring in another run. In the seventh, Jordany Valdespinwas at it again, hitting another pinch-hit homer to bring the Mets within one run, but that’s as close as they would get.

Dodgers Offensive Highlights:

Los Angeles jumped out to an early lead and never looked back thanks to Matt Kemp, who hit a two-run homer off Santana in the top of the first inning. Andre Ethier then doubled after Kemp’s bomb, and scored on Jerry Hairston Jr.’s single. They scratched out another run in the second as Ethier walked with the bases loaded, forcing in a run, which was one of three walks Santana handed out that inning. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a two-run homer by Luis Cruz, the first of his MLB career for the 28-year-old rookie. The Dodger bats were silent until they added an important insurance run in the seventh; Ethier walked again, and put himself into scoring position by stealing second base with Juan Rivera up, who singled him home.

Pitching Highlights:

Santana’s final line wasn’t pretty, as most of his stat lines have been lately: 3 IP, 7 hits, 6 runs, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts. Although Ramon Ramirez gave up a run in his two innings pitched, the work of the bullpen must be commended tonight, as they gave the Mets a chance to come back. Ramirez, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak, and Jon Rauch combined for 6 innings pitched, 1 walk, and 7 strikeouts.

Aaron Harang was the pitcher of record, but it was hardly easy for him. He labored through 5 innings and throwing north of 100 pitches. Harang also gave up 4 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Don Mattingly used five relievers after his starter exited, with Kelsey Jansen saving his 17th game of the season.

Worth Noting:

Valdespin came in during the 7th inning as a pinch hitter and still managed to get two hits, but Daniel Murphy shined at the plate tonight, registering his third four-hit game of the season, spraying his two singles and two doubles to left field. However, Valdespin’s fourth pinch-hit homer this year ties a Mets singles season record. With his 0-for-4 night, Andres Torres’ six game hitting streak has come to an end. Situational hitting, which was a strength of this team in the first half, continues to be a struggle recently, as they stranded 10 runners and going 1-for-9 with RISP.

The loss is the seventh in eight games for the Mets, and their season record drops to 47-46, but thanks to the Braves overcoming a 9-0 deficit to defeat the Nationals, New York remains 7 games back in the NL East, but drop to 4 games back in the NL Wild Card.

Probable Pitchers Saturday:

He can talk the talk, but let’s see if he can walk the walk; Miguel Batista (1-2, 4.33 ERA) gets the start this afternoon for the Amazins. He will square off against former teammate, Chris Capuano (9-5, 2.75 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10pm.