Friday, June 1, 2012

Game #52 (8,020): Mets 8, Cardinals 0

(NYDailyNews.com)
And in this, the 8,020th game, "It has happened."

It was Johan Santana who made the night of June 1, 2012 an immortal one in New York Mets history as he tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history, blanking the St. Louis Cardinals 8-0.

The Good Stuff:
  • Here are the numbers we will have burned into our minds for years to come: no runs, no hits, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts, 134 pitches.
  • Santana's previous career high was 125 pitches and the most he had gone this season was about 106. Once the 7th inning was complete, the only concern was whether this man who was coming off major shoulder surgery would be allowed to go back out there for the 8th. At this point, with 50 years of history staring in his face, there was no way Terry Collins was going to lay a finger on his starter. He went back out for the 8th, and then the 9th, getting Matt Holiday to line out to center, Allen Greg to fly out to left, and David Freese to fish after a beautiful 79 mph changeup to send 27,069 Citi faithful and millions more from Long Island to Long Beach sky-high.
  • After being mobbed by his team on the mound, Johan went to the dugout to receive a handshake and a hug from the man who had the confidence to leave him in. He then went in for an on-field interview with SNY's Kevin Burkhardt, and after addressing the fans, "I know you've waited a long time for this," received a whipped cream pie in the face from Justin Turner, boot and all. "At least it wasn't shaving cream!"

The Other Stuff:
  • Let's face it, there's no Bad Stuff tonight. Just the Other.
  • The closest the Cardinals came to a hit was in the 6th inning when Carlos Beltran (who was warmly received by the Citi Field crowd...that's what I was going to write about tonight) hit a line drive down the third base line that was ruled foul. Replays and a mark in the chalk showed otherwise, and I'll leave it at that.
  • Every one of these things has "the catch that saved the no-no," and tonight that came in the 7th inning. On a 3-1 fastball with one out, Yadier "That Guy" Molina sent a rocket to left field. Charging to the wall came Mike Baxter, and The Whitestone Kid secured it in his glove before crashing shoulder-first into the padding. Baxter left the game with a shoulder contusion, but received a standing ovation for keeping history alive. Something tells me that will dull the pain better than any anesthesia.
  • Oh by the way, the Mets' bats scored 8 runs tonight! Lucas Duda led the way with 4 RBIs, including a 3-run homer in the 6th that all but clinched the W. In the 7th, David Wright drew a bases-loaded walk and Daniel Murphy singled home two more later. Murphy also had an RBI triple in the 4th inning.
Final Analysis:
At the beginning of the season, this the Mets 50th Anniversary campaign, I made a bold prediction: I said it was R.A. Dickey who would break the drought and give team it's first no-no. Never have I been more happy to be wrong.

One of the more well-chronicled phenomena in baseball history, the Mets had at least a dozen men who pitched no hitters either before coming to or after leaving the franchise. It had even been almost 37 years since a Met last took a no-no bid into the 9th (Tom Seaver, on his 3rd attempt). Eight thousand nineteen games had been played in New York Mets history, and 8,019 times the other team had at least a "1" underneath their "H" column. But in Game #8,020, against the defending world champions, Johan Santana gave the fans an Amazin' moment they thought would never come.

Three things come to mind as I wrap up this post I never saw coming. First, the Mets were not the last team to get its first no-hitter (suck it Padres). Second, the team doesn't have to do anything else this season; they could lose every game from here on out and it would still be a successful year. Third, one of the first things I did after the euphoria of the initial celebration with my dad, a lifelong Met fan himself, was check NoNoHitters.com, a daily reminder to Met fans of how long it has taken. It was down. How appropriate.

But now, one more question remains. For the last 50+ years fans have waited for this moment. Now it has come and gone. So...now what?

"Have you ever considered piracy? You'd make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts."

MM

June 1, 2012

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