Leave it to the guy who missed the entire 2011 season and has a surgically-repaired shoulder to put the New York Mets in the history books for something good -- their first no-hitter in franchise history.
It seems like a dream. Eight-thousand-twenty games. Over 50 years of existence. A myriad of wonderful pitchers. And, finally, one feat has been crossed off. Now, the San Diego Padres are the lone team remaining who hasn't had a pitcher toss a no-no.
What makes this all the more unbelievable to me is that I've been alive for about half of the franchise's life -- this will be my 24th year -- and the Mets have been the joke of the league. They've never gotten respect, especially with the New York Yankees in town. I've been able to enjoy three playoff seasons. Luckily, I've only been alive -- witnessing it is probably a bit much - for one no-hitter against: Darryl Kile in 1993. The Amazin's, as a whole, have tossed 18 one-hit games during my lifetime. But only six of them have occurred with one pitcher giving up a hit in the sixth inning or later.
The funny thing is, Santana was far from "perfect" with his stuff in reaching this milestone. He did fan eight, but he also had five walks. Threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of 32 batters. Tossed 134 pitches altogether. And when he was "mowing" down the St. Louis Cardinals hitters, I couldn't help but continue my night, with the Mets game on in the background. Why should I divert my full attention to a game that will ultimately end up breaking my heart? So many games and seasons had before. Disappointment is something all Mets fans have gotten accustomed to.
Like all no-hitters/perfect games, there are the pivotal plays that keep the hope alive. Two of those come to mind in this 8-0 win: Carlos Beltran's drive down the third-base line that was erroneously called foul in the sixth inning and Mike Baxter's seventh-inning running grab to rob Yadier Molina.
Before this season began, it was a relevant question to ask whether Santana would even be able to pitch at all this year. With a 2.38 ERA and 1.03 WHIP and a strikeout per inning, Santana has proven he's still one of the top pitchers in baseball. Now, he's also enshrined in the baseball record books as a member of the New York Mets. It couldn't have happened to a better guy. Staff ace. Leader. Warrior. Now a record-setter in his 273rd start.
Pinch, me, please: there's actually something to celebrate about the boys from Queens.