Johan Santana all of a sudden has morphed into the pitcher we all feared he would be like entering the season, the latest beat down coming from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 7-6 win over the New York Mets on Friday night.
For the first three months, the Mets' left-hander looked invigorated. He was throwing with some unexpected low-90s pop. He was durable, showing no ill-effects of the shoulder surgery he had about two years ago. His numbers bore that out, as he never had an ERA above 3.09 in that timeframe, tossing 98 innings with 93 strikeouts and a 6-4 record.
Lately, Santana has been a shadow of himself, though. His fastball, in the mid-80s, lacks life, his pitches crispness. The latest example was the six earned runs he gave up in three innings on two home runs, three walks and seven hits Friday at Citi Field. It's the third straight start he's given up six or more runs, and the first time a Mets starter has done that since Pedro Astacio ten years ago. The Mets were the feel-good story of the first half of the season because of their strong starting pitching, led by the the former Cy Young award winner and All-Star R.A. Dickey. Now, though, it looks as if the lefty needs some time off to really recharge his batteries.
Santana's struggles were enough to put the Mets into a hole they could never fully climb out of. The Mets were resilient, scoring twice in the first after Santana gave up three. But the runs kept coming for Los Angeles, as one scored in the second and two more crossed the plate in the third.
Pedro Beato's two innings of scoreless relief kept the game within reach, as the Mets clawed their way back with an RBI double from Daniel Murphy in the fifth and an RBI single by Scott Hairston in the sixth. But Ramon Ramirez, in his second inning of work, gave up a run to put the Mets behind by three.
As the Mets have demonstrated throughout the year, they won't go away without a fight. Pinch-hitting specialist Jordany Valdespin came up to the plate and cracked a two-run home run to put the Mets within striking distance. However, after getting a guy on in the eighth and ninth innings, the Mets were unable to get him home to knot the game.
The loss keeps the Mets (47-46) seven games behind the National League East-leading Washington Nationals and drops them 4 1/2 back of a Wild Card spot.
|Final - 7.20.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||3||1||2||0||0||0||1||0||0||7||10||2|
|New York Mets||2||0||0||0||1||1||2||0||0||6||10||0|
|WP: Aaron Harang (7 - 5)
SV: Kenley Jansen (17)
LP: Johan Santana (6 - 7)