It was the old Johan Santana that we all know, love and wish we could see more of Tuesday night as he pitched his first complete game of the season and kept the Reds off the board.
Not only did he pitch a complete game shut-out, he helped out his own cause by hitting the first home run of his Major League career in the third inning. Santana has been let down by a lack of offense in seven of his starts this year, so tonight he decided to take things into his own hands. The shot that caromed off the right field foul pole was part of a 12-pitch at-bat and was all the Mets needed to win.
For good measure, however, the Mets tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning. Jason Bay drove in two runs after Jose Reyes reached on a bunt single and David Wright was intentionally walked.
In the ninth inning, Santana was still on the mound. After getting the first out, things got a little dicey and it was questionable whether Jerry Manuel was going to let him finish the game.
Scott Rolen had singled and Jay Bruce reached safely at first after Bay dropped a routine fly ball. Manuel made his way out to the mound, but it was a short-lived trip as he promptly turned around and went back into the dugout. Replay showed Santana mouthing the words. “I’m staying in. I’m fine.”
After the game, Manuel said as soon as he heard those words, he had no problem keeping Santana in, even though there were runners on first and second with only one out. On top of that, Santana was at 111 pitches on the hottest day of the year and Francisco Rodriguez was warming up in the bullpen.
It turns out Santana only needed two more pitches to put the game in the books. On the first pitch, he got a lineout to first on a great diving catch by Ike Davis. On the second, he induced a ground ball to end the game.
Santana has been excellent in the second halves of seasons, so let’s hope this is a glimpse of what is to come and not more of the same ups and downs.
The Mets stay two games behind the Braves who beat the Phillies. The Phils are three games behind the Mets. The Mets lead the Dodgers by a game in the wild card race.
Other news: David Wright was named National League Player of the Month for June.
Carlos Beltran played in his second straight rehab game and went 2-4 with a single, double, a walk and a run.
Oliver Perez pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks. He struck out seven and reportedly got his velocity up to 92 mph.