Johan Santana Throws First No-Hitter In Mets History
But the first no-hitter in Mets history nearly didn’t happen.
To begin the sixth inning, former Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran laced a line drive down the third-base line. Although replays conclusively proved the ball to be fair, umpire Adrian Johnson ruled Beltran’s hit a foul ball. Beltran would ultimately ground out.
On June 2, 2010, umpire Jim Joyce blew a crucial call that effectively derailed Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga’s perfect game. Galarraga had thrown 8.2 innings of perfect ball when Indians rookie Jason Donald was erroneously called safe at first base.
Had Joyce made the correct call, Galarraga would have been immortalized in baseball history as one of the select few to throw a perfect game (he would have been just the 21st pitcher to accomplish the feat in more than 130 years).
Almost exactly two years (to the day) later, Santana’s no-hit bid was aided by a missed call. Mistakes such as these have led many analysts and fans, alike, to consider the merits of a more expansive replay system.
One inning later, in the top of the seventh, Santana got more help, but this time it came from a teammate. Left fielder Mike Baxter, who grew up no more than 10 minutes from Citi Field, made a phenomenal catch to prevent a Yadier Molina bullet from going for extra bases. On the play, Baxter barreled into the wall and would have to leave the game with a left shoulder bruise.
"As a Met fan as a kid, it is a huge night for the Mets,” Baxter said after the game. “We have been waiting a long time for a no-hitter." Baxter was reportedly in a great deal of pain Saturday morning. With that said, the pain will only be temporary. Baxer’s tremendous effort will be remembered forever as the play that kept the Mets’ first no-hitter intact.
The Mets franchise was established in 1962, more than a half-century ago, yet it had never witnessed a no-hitter from one of its pitchers. There had been 35 one-hitters thrown by Mets pitchers, but never a no-hitter. Never.
Hall of Famer Tom Seaver pitched for the Mets for more than 10 seasons, but his no-hitter came a year later as a member of the Reds. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, who was a Met for five seasons, threw an impressive seven career no-hitters, but none of which were thrown in a Mets uniform.
Dwight Gooden spent 11 quality seasons with the Mets from 1984-1994, including 1985, one of the most dominant pitching seasons of all-time. En route to 24 wins, Gooden struck out 268 batters, while enjoying a 1.53 ERA. Statistical domination aside, Gooden’s only career no-hitter occurred two years later when he was a member of the crosstown Yankees.
In all, seven pitchers have thrown no-hitters since leaving the Mets.
Santana’s five walks forced the Venezuelan to throw 134 pitches, well over his pitch count. Before the game, Mets skipper Terry Collins said he wanted to limit Santana to 110-115 pitches. “I just couldn’t take him out,” said the manager after the game.
Not only did the 33-year-old produce the first no-hitter in franchise history; he also no-hit the best lineup in the N.L. The Cardinals have the best batting average in the senior circuit and score the second most runs (the Rockies edged the Cards for the most).
Santana also blanked the defending World Series champions for the first time since Nolan Ryan no-hit the Oakland Athletics in 1990. In doing so, Santana became only the eighth pitcher in MLB history to no-hit the reigning champs.
Now that a current Mets pitcher has done the deed, the Padres remain the only team not to have pitched a no-no.
Santana joins Phillip Humber (White Sox) and Jered Weaver (Angels) in the 2012 no-hit club. Our own James Santelli nearly attended the game in which Weaver made history.
After Santana’s 134-pitch marathon, Collins is considering giving the aging southpaw some extra rest before his next start.
Here are all 27 outs (Baxter's impressive grab saves the day just after the 2:30 mark):