Santana's no-hitter a long time coming
June, 1, 2012
By Mark Simon | ESPNNewYork.com
US Presswire/Tim FarrellIt took 51 seasons for the Mets to celebrate a pitching performance of this nature.Johan Santana spent more than 19 months waiting to pitch in a major league game after injuring his shoulder in September, 2010.
That was nothing compared to how long the New York Mets waited for their first no-hitter.
Santana continued his comeback by pitching the Mets' first no-hitter, which came in the franchise's 8,020th game. It took a career-high 134 pitches for him to finish off the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Santana had never thrown a one-hitter or two-hitter. He’d previously thrown five three-hitters.
Santana was the fourth pitcher with multiple Cy Young Awards at the time of his first career no-hitter. The other three are Bob Gibson (1971), Tom Seaver (1978), and Bret Saberhagen (1991).
It was Santana’s second consecutive shutout, making him the first Met to record back-to-back shutouts since David Cone in 1992. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that he was the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter in his next start after throwing a shutout since Dave Righetti in 1983.
How He Did It
Santana got the last out of the game with his most effective pitch, a changeup at which David Freese swung and missed.
That was one of 10 outs Santana recorded with the changeup in the game. He threw 38 changeups and coaxed nine misses on the 19 swings by Cardinals hitters.
Santana also got seven outs with the slider, a pitch that he threw around the strike zone, but rarely in it. Only five of Santana’s 20 sliders ended up in the strike zone.
Getting outs out of the strike zone was a significant part of this game. Santana got 10 outs on pitches that Pitch F/X deemed out of the strike zone. Eight of those were pitches that were off the inside part of the plate.
In all, Cardinals hitters chased 28 pitches that were out of the strike zone, the most in a Santana start since he got 29 chases in April, 2009.
Santana also kept his defense busy. He got 15 fly ball outs, including the running, crash-into-the-fence catch by left fielder Mike Baxter against Yadier Molina, three ground-outs, and one line-drive out.
Santana was challenged by a Cardinals lineup in which he had to get a right-handed hitter out 25 times. Right-handed hitters are now 2-for-44 against him in his last two starts.
Santana also survived five walks. He threw 58 percent strikes, his second-lowest percentage in any of his starts this season.
Stats of the Night
The Mets went 8,019 games without a no-hitter. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that’s the most by any team before it recorded its first no-hitter. The team with the next-most was the Mets opponent on Friday, the Cardinals, who played 4,826 games before their first no-hitter.
The Padres are now the only current team without a no-hitter. They’ve played 6,895 games without one.
Elias also noted that the Cardinals were the first defending World Series champions to be no-hit since the 1990 Oakland Athletics were no-hit by Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers.
Lastly via Elias: Santana was the third non-rookie in the past 50 seasons to throw a no-hitter after not pitching in the majors the previous season. The other two were Jim Palmer for the 1969 Baltimore Orioles and former Met Dwight Gooden for the 1996 New York Yankees.