Lucky Number 8020!
History was made last night when Johan Santana pitched the first ever No-Hitter for the New York Mets. It took just over half a century, but the Mets have finally ended the longest streak of not having a No-Hitter in Major League Baseball history. The masterful No-No came on the Mets 8020th game as a franchise. Johan, who had missed all of last season after shoulder surgery, had a career high in pitches (134), and finished the no-hit bid against the St. Louis Cardinals with 5 walks and 8 strikeouts. As a life long Mets fan, this is an extremely exciting moment for myself as well as any Mets fan that suffered through the years where the Mets have accumulated 35 1-hit games.
The absence of a No-Hitter for the Mets has become an ongoing joke among fans based on how close we have come on so many different occasions. Well now the jokes are over. No longer will I have to hear about the Mets all time greatest pitcher, Tom Seaver, and his 3 blown no-hitters in the 9th inning. The truth of the matter is that the Mets have had some of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball play for them, some who had even gone on to throw a no-hitter, but never for the Mets. The Mets have left the San Diego Padres as the lone team longing for a no-hitter, and if it remains that way for the next 7 seasons then the Padres will pass the Mets for the longest streak of not having one.
When Johan made it back to the dugout after pitching a hit-less 8th inning, there was not one Mets player that would talk to him or even look at him as he was isolated to the end of the bench where he could think about changing his franchises history. With a full count on the St. Louis Cardinals David Freese, Johan threw his patented change-up for his 134th pitch and got Freese to swing and miss. The stadium filled with over 27,000 screaming Mets fans erupted in jovial celebration with fans running on the field and cameras flashing throughout the ballpark. This was the 2-time Cy Young award winner’s first ever no-hitter and after the game he was so excited to talk about it. “I don’t think I’ve ever even thrown a no-hitter in video games,” Santana said.
In the sixth inning, former Mets player Carlos Beltran hit a line drive up the third base line which appeared to be fair but the umpire called it foul keeping Johan’s no-hitter intact. Some people are saying that Santana’s triumph should come with an asterisks which I think is absurd because there are missed calls in baseball on a daily basis. The biggest hurdle that Johan had to overcome for the no-hitter was a 7th-inning bomb ripped over the Mets left fielder, Mike Baxter’s head. Baxter sprinted back towards the warning track looking over his shoulder and reaching out his glove as the ball was caught in a beautiful fashion as Baxter collided in full speed into the wall. Mike might have left the game with a shoulder injury after that catch, but he will never leave the minds of Mets fans that know he saved what has become the Mets first ever No-Hitter.
“That ball that Baxter caught, he’ll go down in the annals of New York Met lore because of that,” said pitcher R.A. Dickey.
“What a night for the Mets,” Baxter said in the Mets’ clubhouse. “As a Met fan as a kid, it is a huge night for the Mets. We have been waiting a long time for a no-hitter.”
What a night indeed. In what has already been an overachieving season for the Mets, seems to only be getting better. Let’s hope they can keep it up because we still need a Perfect Game!
Congratulations to the Mets and Johan Santana!
SOME INTERESTING STATS
It’s hard to believe that the Mets have never before had a no-hitter to their credit. Not once in the prior 5 decades has a Metropolitan pitcher managed to push through a full game without giving up at least one hit. Over 8,000 games without achieving what had been accomplished 232 times since 1901. Okay, statistically speaking we are talking about a percentage opportunity for any one pitcher on any single team actually completing a no-hitter at some ridiculously infinitesimally small number, about 0.13%!
Roughly speaking, there have been about 176,000 major league games played in the past 111 years, including post-season [for statistical purists, this is the estimate of games as a two-team total, since one game = 2 teams playing; it would be double this for individual totals). The 8,019 games in which the Mets played before Santana’s new number 1 hit (okay, number 1 NO-hit) represent only 4.5% of these games. So what does this all mean? How the hell would I know! But it’s a small frigging number and Johan did it.