As mentioned earlier, Mets starter Johan Santana was brutalized by the Yankees last night to the tune of 4 HR’s in a 9-1 defeat. It was Santana’s first appearance since throwing the first no-no in Mets history, a 134 pitch performance of which much was made concerning Terry Collins’ decision to allow the veteran’s surgically repaired shoulder to go the distance. Collins admitted afterwards that he was reluctant to sacrifice Santana’s well-being, if not the Mets’ season, for one shot at glory, and on the evidence of Friday night, that’s exactly what The Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch suggests the manager has done (“the dark possibility is that Santana’s surgically arm was at least drained and maybe injured after back-to-back complete games”)
Santana insisted that he felt “good” all night, which, true or not, limited the discussion to pitch-location instead of second-guessing any of the decisions of the past seven days. Still, there wasn’t much in the way of mystery throughout the night; it was obvious Santana was working with diminished stuff as early as the second inning, when, after Alex Rodriguez led off with a walk, Robinson Cano hit the first of two home runs over the right field wall.
The pummeling was as quick as it was brutal: First pitch, middle of the plate, delivered at an appetizing 89-mph. Cano practically dented the ball; Lucas Duda didn’t even bother chasing. In just one swing, Santana had lost his aura of invincibility and became just another pitcher trying to survive the Stadium’s home run factor.
This was the same Santana who, only two weeks ago, was being handled with extreme care by the Mets. Somehow, Santana went from reclamation project to the rotation’s workhorse. Collins even allowed himself to address a hypothetical question before the game about letting Santana pursue a second no-hitter had the situation presented itself.
“If he’s staring history in the face, you have to let him take a run at it,” the manager said. The Mets will have to re-think that assessment. Santana is a superstar but he’s no machine. The Mets found out the hard way just how wide that gulf really is.