Johan Santana – The Chosen One
I know my boss, Joe, isn’t as excited about this as I am, but it’s certainly worth noting. My thoughts on the first no-hitter in Mets history:
50 years. 8,019 games. No no-hitters.
Johan Santana and his rebuilt shoulder threw 134 pitches. Terry Collins had made it clear that Santana’s limit was 110 pitches, maybe 115. But when you are the New York Mets. And you’ve never thrown a no-hitter in 50 years. And you have a no-hitter in progress after 7 innings. With Johan Santana on the mound.
Pitch counts be damned.
If Terry Collins took Santana out after the 7th inning, no matter how logical, no matter how good his intentions, no matter how much Sandy Alderson would have preferred it – he never would have been able to manage in New York again. It was an emotional decision – as we the fans would have made – but it needed to be made.
And Santana got some help. Former Met Carlos Beltran smoked a liner down the third base line. It barely cleared the third base bag, then nipped the outside edge of the chalk. It should have been a fair ball and a base hit. But it wasn’t. Young third base umpire Adrian Johnson called the ball foul. He didn’t have the benefit of instant replay. It happened in the blink of an eye. Yes, he missed the call, just as the official scorer missed the call in 1985, when Keith Moreland dribbled a ball to third base that should have been ruled an error. But it was called a hit. In 2001, Glendon Rusch was the victim of a similar play when an error on Lenny Harris was ruled a hit.
Yes, the breaks work both ways.
Santana got the ball up to Molina. He ripped it to deep left. I, and every other Mets fan, cursed his name in unison. Molina does it to us again, that so-and-so.
But Baxter went back – you could see it in his eyes – I’m not going to let this ball drop. He made the catch, and he crashed into the wall, full bore, with no regard for his own well being. He was taken out of the game with a shoulder contusion, but Mike Baxter, the Queens native, will be forever loved by Mets fans.
Santana gutted out the last two innings – seemingly getting stronger – fooling the best lineup in the national league – the world champs. Each Cardinals hitter stepped to the plate, more and more demoralized. Johan didn’t overpower St. Louis, he outwitted them. He showed them what a maestro he is.
And he struck out the NLCS and World Series MVP, David Freese, to nail it down.
The first no-hitter in Mets history. And of any current Mets pitcher, who else would you want to do it but Johan Santana? He’s done nothing but deliver the entire time he’s been here, and now he’s shown the baseball world that that the tear of the anterior capsule of the shoulder is not the end of your career – it’s just the beginning.
Johan Santana has reached chosen-one status – like Paul Muad-dib in Dune – if you saw this in a movie, you wouldn’t believe it – but EL GOCHO BELIEVE IT! This is real life.
And the Mets have finally pitched a no-hitter.