Since being founded in 1962 Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, David Cone, Bret Saberhagen, and Frank Viola are some of the familiar names who have pitched for the New York Mets. None of them threw a no-hitter during their time as a member of the team who has called the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium, and now Citi Field home.
Ryan went on to throw a Major League record seven no-hitters. Seaver recorded one with the Cincinnati Reds. Gooden pitched one for the crosstown New York Yankees. David Cone’s perfect game against the Montreal Expos came as a member of the Yankees.
Tonight, Johan Santana recorded the first no-hitter for the Mets in franchise game 8,020.
Santana threw a career-high 134 pitches, 77 for strikes. The most pitches the 33-year old had thrown in a game this season was 108 versus the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A recurring theme early this season has been criticism of umpires and an apparent missed call played a part in the history making performance.
For once the Mets caught a break.
At one time Johan Santana was arguably the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. The 4-time All-Star won two Cy Young Awards over a three-year span. He led the American League in strikeouts for three consecutive years from 2004-2006. Santana has led both the AL (twice) and NL in ERA. Sports Illustrated named him to its All-Decade Team in 2009.
The left shoulder that helped Johan Santana become one of the best pitchers we have seen in recent years, and earned him a $137 million contract from the New York Mets, apparently had given out late in 2010. He would undergo surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule, a procedure also performed on one-time Mets pitcher Bret Saberhagen among others, and missed the entire 2011 season. Former Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior had the same surgery in 2008 and hasn’t pitched in the Major Leagues since. Chien-Ming Wang’s procedure took place in July 2009. His next start came in July 2011.
Coming into spring training this year no one was quite sure what to expect from the veteran who last pitched in a Major League game on September 2, 2010. Even the most optimistic probably had a hard time envisioning what Santana had done through his first ten starts of 2012, let alone today.
After tonight’s performance his record is a modest 3-2, but not much else about his stat line shares that label. He lowered his ERA to 2.38, which would have been good enough for sixth in the NL before today’s action. His 68 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched is a hair above his career strikeouts/innings pitched ratio. Santana has only given up more than three earned runs in two starts this season (4 both times) and tonight marks his second consecutive complete game shutout.
In short, the run Santana is on is remarkable. We’ve seen remarkable from him before, but you can make an argument this current stretch is as impressive as any of his career.
He might not be the best pitcher to ever wear a New York Mets uniform, but for the time being Johan Santana’s name stands alone in the team’s record book.