After 8,019 games, finally a Mets pitcher throws a no-hitter. It wasn’t during the World Series or in the heat of the pennant race. It was hardly even a sold out crowd. But as the game unfolded special things started to happen. When all was said and done, after 134 pitches from a surgically repaired and healed shoulder, Johan Santana becomes the first pitcher in Mets history to throw a no-hitter.
Carlos Beltran hit a shot down the left field line… foul cried the umpire. It happened so fast, how could anyone know for sure if the ball was fair or not. Well the replay showed it was fair, hitting the edge of the foul line. But as Harold Reynolds pointed out on MLB Network, the ball was hit so hard and it went down the line so fast, there was no way anyone could tell if it was fair or foul. It was only afterward on replay that we saw it was fair. But the call stood as it should have. Perhaps in a way, the baseball gods evened the score for the perfect game that wasn’t from 2010 in Detroit, ironically two years ago today. A blown call by umpire Jim Joyce at first base for what should have been the final out cost Armando Gallaraga his perfect game and no-hitter. That was criminal. And what’s worse, a pitcher losing a no-hitter on a bad call or a pitcher getting a no-hitter on a bad call?
Then there is Mike Baxter, a fairy tale dream come true. Mike grew up in Queens attending many Mets games with his father. Since then he worked as hard as anyone, a Johan Santana work ethic if you will, to get to where he is today. He went back on a ball that looked for sure it would be a hit. Baxter seized the moment and made a terrific over the shoulder catch, crashing into the wall injuring his own shoulder. It was unbelievable and it was poetic, almost as if Baxter was giving up his shoulder, channeling all the energy of his and his teammates into Johan’s.
Perhaps the 134 pitches Johan threw will be a problem down the road. Let’s hope not. Let’s hope Johan’s no-hitter is simply a testament to his hard work to get himself back to the ace he was once before. The Mets may have had more talented pitchers in their past. Certainly Tom Seaver and a young Dwight Gooden come to mind. But they certainly had no one who works as hard and diligently as Johan Santana.
It was a special night, the first no-hitter in the fifty plus years of the New York Mets. It was also the biggest game to occur so early in a season for the Mets. For far too many seasons, by Memorial Day, the Mets were done. Not this year, not yet. These Mets have a grit, a singular desire to win, to prove all the critics wrong. Last night, Johan Santana punctuated the attitude of this team. Never say die, never give up. I don’t know how the season will end and frankly I don’t care because win or lose, I love this team more and more.
Johan: I never thought I would see what happened tonight. I was a teenager when Tom Seaver came so close on three different occasions during his Mets career, taking no-hitters into the ninth inning. Others came close too but never took the no-hit bid so late into the game, having given up their one hit early. (Mets have thrown 35 one-hitters in their history.) Now in my mid fifties, finally me and all Mets fans experienced something we will never forget. Thank you so much for turning an average early season Friday evening into something absolutely electric. You have now joined the ranks of the all time great Mets. You were headed there anyway. Tonight’s performance simply sealed the deal.