Friday, August 26, 2011
Updated: August 27, 11:05 AM ET
Capuano earns a place in Mets lore
By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- More than 52 years ago, Tom Seaver pitched arguably the most dominant game in New York Mets franchise history.
On Friday night, Chris Capuano pitched arguably the second-most dominant game in Mets history.
(Well, David Cone did strike out 19 Phillies on Oct. 6, 1991.)
Capuano fired a two-hit shutout, striking out a career-high 13, walking none and facing just one batter over the minimum in a 6-0 win over the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.
In the process, Capuano (10-11), who won for the first time since July 28 at Cincinnati, became just the second pitcher in Mets franchise history to record a shutout in which he allowed two hits or fewer, struck out at least 10, and walked none, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The other? Seaver on July 9, 1969 against the Cubs, when he lost a perfect game with one out in the ninth.
Seaver's line that day: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 11 SO
"That's probably the only time I'll be talked about in the same sentence as Tom Seaver," said Capuano, who lost his bid for a perfect game when Dan Uggla led off the fifth with a broken-bat single through the left side of the infield. "So I guess I'll enjoy it tonight."
His catcher enjoyed it just as much.
"He threw four pitches [a four-seam fastball, sinker, slider and changeup] for strikes and moved the ball around quite a bit," Josh Thole said of Capuano's 122-pitch effort, of which 79 went for strikes.
"We had a good rhythm tonight," continued Thole, who added that Capuano shook him off just twice all night. "That was the key."
For Capuano, it was his third career complete-game shutout, and his first since July 6, 2006 when, as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, he blanked the Chicago Cubs, also by a 6-0 count.
"That was a nice game," manager Terry Collins said. "That was a fun game to watch and be a part of. I was really happy for Cappy. He certainly deserved it. That's a lot of pitches for him too, and I hope he comes out of it [healthy], but he deserved to be in there in the ninth, I thought."
Added Capuano: "I purposely kept not looking at how many pitches, so I wouldn't know how many I'd thrown."
Prior to the ninth inning, Collins met with Capuano to make sure he could continue. Capuano said yes, so Collins gave him a chance -- and the 33-year-old left-hander didn't let his manager down.
He got Jose Constanza to ground out to second, struck out pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad looking, and got Michael Bourn to chase a high-and-inside fastball to end it.
"I just wanted to get ahead and finish guys, and I was able to tonight," said Capuano, who recorded six of his strikeouts on fastballs, five on changeups and two on sliders, according to ESPN Stats & Info. "I felt pretty good."
Nice to hear from a veteran who has endured two Tommy John surgeries.
"It was exhilarating to get that last strikeout," Capuano said. "I was actually trying to go away with the fastball, but instead I ran it up and in on him and I got lucky he took a swing at it."
That was just the kind of night it was for Capuano, who came into Friday night's start with an 0-1 record and a 6.62 ERA in his previous three outings.
"It was big for me, especially coming off that last one," Capuano said of his Aug. 20 start against the Brewers, where he was tagged for seven runs in 5 2/3 innings. "Milwaukee was really frustrating for me."
Monday night was anything but frustrating -- unless, of course, you batted for the Braves.
"Probably in the fourth or fifth I knew I felt pretty good," Capuano said. "I was hitting my spots and not trying to get ahead of myself, just take it one pitch at time."
Capuano retired the first 12 hitters he faced before Uggla, who appeared to get lucky when a piece of his bat flew out near David Wright, who had to hesitate before reacting to the ball as it went past him and Ruben Tejada.
But Capuano induced the next batter, Freddie Freeman, to ground into a 4-6-3 double play. Capuano got through the first 23 batters facing the minimum before David Ross slammed a two-out double to right in the eighth.
"I wasn't too concerned about the no-hitter," Capuano said. "As a pitcher you don't start thinking about those things until the eighth or ninth. I was aware of it, but I didn't mind losing it at that point. It was still early in the game."
The Mets have now gone 7,936 games in franchise history without recording a no-hitter.
But to Chris Capuano that didn't matter. Because on Friday night, Capuano was as close to perfect as you can get. And his performance was as dominant as any pitcher -- well, except Seaver, and maybe Cone -- in franchise history.
"I think it has to be," Capuano replied when asked if it was the best outing of his career, which has spanned seven seasons and 149 starts. "I've had a couple shutouts before, but at this point in the season, and after a rocky last month and a half, it certainly feels like it."
|Capuano was fired up after hurling arguably the best game of his career.|
Mike Mazzeo is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.