The 8,020th time was the charm.

In their 51st season, the Mets finally have a no-hitter. Johan Santana tamed the NL’s top offense — pregame graphics showed the Cardinals leading the NL in BA, OBP, SLG, HRs and scoring — with a Herculean effort of 134 pitches, 9 more than he’d ever thrown in a big-league game, and 26 more than his longest outing this year, his first season since 2010 surgery on his torn anterior capsule.

With the pitch count — 120 through the 8th — looming in the mind of every Mets fan, announcer, coach and front-office man, the first out of the 9th took just 1 pitch, a soft liner to CF by Matt Holliday (who went 2-4 with a HR and double the last time they met). Allen Craig, coming off the DL with a .373 BA just in time to face Johan for the first time, blooped out to left on a 2-2 count. David Freese took 3 balls, then a strike at the knees. He fouled off another. And then Freese swung over a signature Johan change-up. Josh Thole, also fresh off the DL, held on. And then bedlam.

There was one sour note in the game: A ball that Carlos Beltran pulled down the 3B line in the 6th was ruled foul, but replays appeared to show the ball hitting chalk past the bag.

The other close call for Santana was a drive to deep left in the 7th that Mike Baxter snagged running full-speed into the padded wall. He crash-landed, face down, kicking his right leg in apparent agony, but the ball was in his glove. Baxter was down for a while before walking off on his own steam; he may have injured his left shoulder. Here’s hoping there’s no concussion.

The no-hitter wasn’t Johan’s only historic achievement tonight. He also became the first Met with consecutive shutouts since 1992, when David Cone did it twice in the first 2 months. (Cone had an NL-best 5 shutouts when he was traded in August.) The catch for this pursuit was that Johan used 120 pitches through 8 innings, well over his prescribed limit — so the no-no was the only path to finish the shutout.

He finished with 8 strikeouts and 5 walks, 2 more than any other start this year — but not from protecting the no-hitter. Four of the walks came before the first out of the 5th inning.

June 1, 2012 is a day that will live forever in Mets history, and the moment couldn’t have been authored by a more admirable Met. Thank you, Johan!


[The following is something I wrote after Santana’s previous start, a 96-pitch shutout, but I held it back for reasons I can’t recall. There’s no holding back now.]

A Brief Appreciation of Johan

There are a hundred and one things to admire about Johan Santana. Here’s just one:

He fields his position brilliantly.

Two reasons: One, he has an athlete’s instincts in an athlete’s body. Two, he finishes his delivery in textbook attitude.

Here’s what I love about that second reason: It’s a choice that shows team spirit. Now, there are many pitchers who fall off the mound after delivering, and by no means do I think they all could mend their ways without a loss of effectiveness. But I do think there are some who’ve never taken the matter seriously, who feel their talent is so special that they needn’t bother pursuing such small advantages as are to be got from a pitcher’s fielding.

But it’s not just about those few extra outs snagged by the pitcher. It’s also about the infielder who just knows he’s so quick and cannon-armed, he doesn’t need to pick up the catcher’s sign. It’s about the outfielder who shies from the wall too often [I thought about this as I watched Baxter slam into the wall tonight], or always goes for the glory of the baserunner kill instead of hitting the cutoff. And it’s about the catcher who glove-swipes at a bouncing curve with men on base instead of moving his feet and taking his lumps.

In other words, it’s about the self-multiplying value of showing respect and commitment to your team and teammates, through an attitude of professional humility that says, I am not so great that I can give away advantages and still hold my head up in the clubhouse.

And you can just tell — Johan means to hold his head up in the clubhouse. Always.


JOHAN HAS DONE IT!!! — 37 Comments

    • Shping, I’ll be honest: I’m ecstatic about this game, but I’ve never been terribly bummed about the Mets not having one in their history. Maybe it’s because I’m an adopted Mets fan — since 1984, yes, but that’s still not the same as being born into it.

      And as excited as I am about the no-hitter, I’m even more jazzed to see Johan sporting a 2.38 ERA with 68 Ks in 68 IP, and 2 complete games. No player is more important to the Mets’ immediate future.

  1. Fine tribute, John. Let’s hope this presages some Rushmore recarvings in time. After waiting 50 years to taste this, it’s savory.

    • John, I can recall two times in recent Mets history that I asked myself that very question: Endy’s catch in the 2006 NLCS (I was in a seat down the LF line, and even though I saw all the way that Endy believed he had a chance, I was still dazed when he caught it); and the next-to-last day of 2008, when Johan demanded the ball on short rest with the Mets’ season crumbling down around us, and shut out the Marlins on 3 hits for a 2-0 win.

      His fastball velocity is not what makes Johan special; it is his pride and determination.

  2. Great game but I don’t understand the comments that it couldn’t have happened to a better person. Wasn’t Johan hit with a rape allegation which he claimed was consensual? I guess that’s between him and his wife and doesn’t make him a bad person.

    • Let’s take that in two steps, RW: The allegation of a crime, and Johan’s admission of having sex with a woman not his wife.

      I consider the allegation not credible, based partly on my impression of Johan’s character (this is admittedly not a strong argument), partly on the circumstances, partly on the fact that the prosecutor never brought charges, and partly on doubts about the accuser’s credibility (a recent news story about her civil suit notes that “The counterclaim also alleges that Lee County sheriff’s deputies found online search terms about false rape and evidence preservation during a forensic examination of the woman’s computers”).

      As to his having sex outside his marriage, I do not feel qualified to judge that sort of thing about a person whose private life I know nothing about.

      I’ll admit that I’d completely forgotten about that incident. But when I wrote that the no-hitter “couldn’t happen to a more admirable Met,” I meant that in the sense of his professional life. Yes, I can see an argument that even consensual sex in a semi-public place with someone you don’t know well enough to trust their discretion risks embarrassing your team. But on the broad spectrum of athletic misbehavior, it doesn’t shock my conscience the way that, say, screaming anti-Semitic epithets at a beggar on a Times Square sidewalk does.

  3. I’m glad for him, and glad for Mets fans, but…well, you know. Have there been any other no-hitters that depended on an indisputably missed call? Not balls-and-strikes stuff, but a clear hit that was taken away. Anyway, more than balanced by all the Cards’ league-leading numbers you point out.

    • Phil, I can’t cite one offhand, but I would be shocked if there weren’t a few no-hitters that were known to have depended a call that was just as badly missed as this one.

    • And we all remember at least one perfect game lost by a badly missed call so perhaps in some unfathomable way the two offset each other.

  4. JA: Johan did not have Tommy John surgery; he had a torn anterior capsule repaired. Even rarer.

    I missed watching the game, and it’s still sinking in. Gonna DVR that puppy when they re-air it on SNY tomorrow. What a great day for Met fandom!

    • The torn anterior capsule injury is not just more rare, but is nearly always career ending. I don’t have data on this, but I did hear that Santana is either the first player to ever make a comeback from this type of injury or the first player to come back with a minimum amount of success. These days, almost everyone makes a full recovery from Tommy John injury.

      I discovered this blog searching for data on shutouts in consecutive starts. It feels as rare as a no-hitter these days, but I suppose 30-50 years ago it was more common. John, can you find data on this? Maybe all-time and partitioned by decade?

      • Brett, if I’d seen your question a little earlier, I’d have been happy to oblige. Streak searches are the most time-consuming, so maybe tomorrow.

  5. Consider all the amazing pitchers the Mets have had over the years… I almost expected that if this ever did happen, it would be some journeyman that was otherwise mediocre, someone we’d be really happy for but also half-regret was the one who finally pulled it off. You need a lot of luck to toss a no-hitter as it is. So in a way, I’m doubly happy that it was Johan Santana, a guy who’s overcome a lot to continue his career, and who is a highly-skilled pitcher and legit ace. I’m pleased the Mets’ first no-hitter is his.

  6. In all that I’ve heard and read about all the Mets pitchers who might have been expected to bag a no-no, I don’t know if enough has been said about the man I think was as likely as anyone after Seaver: Sid Fernandez.

    If you search from 1901 for the lowest career hit rates with 1500+ IP, the results start like this: Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Sid Fernandez, J.R. Richard, Andy Messersmith.

    It’s not to say that he was a great pitcher; he was good, but he walked a few too many, tended to have one bad inning, and didn’t finish that many games (25 out of 300 starts).

    But no-hitters are about, well, hits. And Sid had five 2-hitters (averaging 9.4 Ks), a couple of 8-inning 1-hitters, and five 3-hitters. He had a 16-K game, a couple of 14’s. He might have been given a chance to finish some more games (Davey never believed in him) if he’d been lucky enough to take a no-hitter to the 9th.

    • I think Sid pitched a couple of no-no’s in the minors. Not a hard thrower, but he clearly had something unusual about either his delivery of the movement on his pitches, or a combo of both, that made him difficult to read.

      • Mike, Sid hid the ball very well, through a combination of keeping his arm sharply bent at the elbow until he finally uncoiled, and his (ahem) rather tubular form.

        • Sid’s tubular form was no doubt helped along by island cuisine- in fact he was one of two players on that ’86 team that were born and raised on Oahu, with Ron Darling being the other.

          (I don’t know how to run a search to determine whether any other team has ever had more than one Hawaii native on its roster at any given time. But, looking at the 37 players who are listed as being from Hawaii, I’d guess that those 80’s-era Mets would be the only match.)

          Yet, despite his form, Sid was not only a perfect 1-1 in SB attempts, but also apparently managed two triples. Now that’s something that I’d love to watch on YouTube (someday), if I had a minute….or….ten?

    • Talking of pitchers who really should have a no hitter: Matt Cain. 4th active in hits per nine innings, three one-hitters to date. Cain to no-hit the Cubs tonight!

      PS Congrats Mets fans.

  7. …and baseball being what it is, the Mets will now probably toss two more no-hitters this year. Maybe this week.

  8. Congratulations.
    That being said, I watched the finish on, and I found myself rooting for Freese to rip one into the gap. Streaks of futility (or, lack-of-exceptionality) are precious morsels of torture. Sad to see a good one fizzle away.

    • This only happened because here at HHS in the last few days we’ve pointed out that no Met has ever had a three-homer game at home. So the gods could safely end the no-hitter streak secure in the knowledge that there is another Mets streak of futility out there. At least until Duda hits three this afternoon.

  9. Not a mets fan (it’s a bit incompatible with being a Yankee fan). But i tuned in for the eight and ninth. Very gutty performance and a very nice moment. Good to see all the hard work be rewarded.

  10. I didn’t get to check on the game until the bottom of the eight. Even as a Cardinals fan, I was compelled by the prospect. If my team’s going to be no hit, it’s good to see someone like Santana get the props.

  11. Johan…… 😀

    Is it too late to go back and cast my Mt. Rushmore vote for “Johan Santana(bwahahahaha)”? Yes. Yes, I think I will. 😀

    I’ve said it before, but, I don’t ever understand why the Twins ever threw him away, when they knew that they had the new ballpark coming. The point was to spend money on players to compete?? And, I still think that he gives them a chance in the 2010 playoffs, and even in 2009, as they would have been in a better position to come into the playoffs somewhat rested, rather than winning their one-game playoff, partying, travelling, and then having to start the playoffs against NY right away.

    But, whatever, that was then, and this is now. I don’t get to watch much baseball anymore, and so I haven’t seen him pitch in awhile. Most of what news I get comes from JA’s daily recaps, when I can catch them. But if yesterday’s game was anything like the days when he was pitching with Minnesota….wow. It must have been something to see.

    I never watched Randy Johnson day in and out, and I came along a little too late to catch Carlton’s prime, so I feel ok in saying that JS is the best lefty that I have seen in my lifetime.
    Surprised that he doesn’t have 2 or 3 no hitters by now- congrats to the Mets and thanks for giving one of my favorite players ever another shot.

    And thanks for letting me ramble, lol ;-p

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *