Hitters making fast work of Santana's heater

July, 21, 2012
7/21/12
12:48
AM ET

Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesJohan Santana didn't reach the 4th inning against the Dodgers Friday.
Less than two months after he earned a permanent spot in New York Mets lore by throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history, Johan Santana tied a more dubious team mark on Friday.

Santana joined Pedro Astacio in 2002 and Bobby Jones in 1995 as the only Mets pitchers to ever allow at least 6 earned runs in 3 straight outings after giving up 6 runs over 3 innings in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since throwing the Mets initial no-hitter on June 1, Santana is now 3-5 with a 6.54 ERA in 8 starts.

Santana’s fastball has let him down over that span. Opposing hitters are batting .323 against Santana’s heater in his last 8 starts, in large part because he’s having serious trouble locating the pitch. 52 percent of Santana’s fastballs have been in the strike zone since his no-hitter, compared to the one-third of Santana’s fastballs that found the zone against the Cardinals on June 1.

If there was an opponent that was likely to snap Santana out of his post-no-hitter struggles, the Dodgers were a good bet. Entering Friday, Santana was 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in 5 career starts vs the Dodgers, the lowest ERA vs the Dodgers of any pitcher with at least 5 starts against the team in the live ball era (since 1920).

Elsewhere in the majors Friday:

• The Atlanta Braves overcame a 9-0 deficit to beat the Washington Nationals 11-10 in 11 innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Atlanta’s 9-run comeback ties a franchise record also accomplished in 1987 vs the San Diego Padres and 1977 vs the St. Louis Cardinals. The Nationals 9-run blown lead is the largest in team history, including the franchise’s years in Montreal.

• Jim Thome’s 4th-inning home run vs the Cleveland Indians was the 610th of his career, breaking a tie with Sammy Sosa for seventh on the all-time HR list. Next up for Thome is Ken Griffey Jr. at 630.

• Robinson Cano now owns the longest hit streak in the majors this season after his 7th-inning single vs the Oakland Athletics extended his hit streak to 23 games, one more than Michael Brantley’s streak earlier this year. Cano’s streak is the longest by a Yankee in a single season since Derek Jeter in 2006 (25 games).

• Justin Verlander allowed 2 runs in 8 innings in a win against the Chicago White Sox. Verlander has now pitched at least 6 innings in 62 straight starts, breaking a tie with Catfish Hunter for the third-longest streak in the live ball era. Verlander is 11-1 in 12 starts vs the White Sox since 2009, tied for the highest win percentage (.917) for a pitcher against a single opponent over the last 4 seasons according to the Elias Sports Bureau (minimum 10 decisions).

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