Wow, what a night! 50 years and 8,019 regular season games in the making… The Mets have finally thrown a no-hitter. You couldn’t have scripted any better – Johan Santana, our $137.5 million dollar ace, throws the franchise’s first no-hitter and he does it at Citi Field after missing all of last season while rehabbing from shoulder surgery.
That was an exhilarating, gut-wrenching and stressful 3 hours that ended in exuberance. It felt like a heavyweight fight, dodging big blow after big blow, whether it was the blown call, Baxter’s catch, the 9th inning bloops that looked like for sure they were going to drop in for hits, Johan’s pitch count etc. Finally we hung in the ring long enough for Johan to deliver the knockout blow and strike out the NLCS and World Series MVP with his signature change up.
After watching all of those ex-Mets throw no-hitters, and watching several Mets take no-hitters into the 8th and 9th innings only to lose them, I am still in shock and almost don’t believe it actually happened. But not only did it happen, it happened against the defending World Champs and the best offense in the National League.
By the 6th inning, it became clear that not only Johan had a chance to do something very special but that there a dilemma brewing from Johan’s pitch count. He had 93 pitches after 6 innings and in the pre-game interviews, Terry Collins said Johan was good for about 115 pitches. Clearly he would need more than that to complete a no-hitter. The club is being careful with his pitch count (rightfully so) since he had only started 10 games after having shoulder surgery. Terry didn’t look happy about it but there was no way he was going to take Johan out of this game until he gave up a hit or completed the no-hitter. I also don’t think Santana would have come out even it Terry had decided to make the move. He ended up with 134 pitches but it wouldn’t have mattered if needed 200 pitches, Johan was going to be in until the end.
There was a controversial (if not just blatantly wrong) call on a ball hit down the left field line by ex-Met Carlos Beltran. It definitely was fair but the ump called it foul and that’s all that matters. There are definitely no asterisks in my mind and in the inverse of what happened to Armando Galarraga last season, an umpire’s call went our way to preserve history instead of deny it. I also couldn’t help thinking that if Yadier Molina makes it to the plate with 2 out in the 9th, there was a 100% chance he breaks up the no-hitter. Good thing Johan got Freese to end it because I don’t know if Mets fans can stomach another blow from Molina.
Mike Baxter, one of many Buffalo Bison who continue to step up this season, made a spectacular play in left field. There is always one amazing defensive play in every no-hitter or perfect game, after which you say to yourself “Alright, maybe this is meant to be.” He went all out to make that catch slamming his shoulder square into the wall. It was definitely the most memorable left field grab in Citi Field and would have been the greatest left field catch in Mets history if it wasn’t for Endy Chavez robbing a HR against the Cards in the ’06 NLCS.
Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez were fantastic. As was Howie Rose and his radio call – “Put in the books, the history books!” Tremendous. They all were emotional and you can see during the post-game how much it meant to Gary. He felt exactly how every other Met fan felt and vocalized it perfectly. It’s one of the shining moments in franchise history and the broadcasters lived up to the moment. I know we will be hearing those calls for years to come.
Citi Field was electric all night – it was without a doubt the most juiced that building has even been. One fan even ran onto the field immediately following the final out and jumped into the team huddle while they were celebrating with Johan. The fan was wearing a Gary Carter jersey and his jersey blended in perfectly with the other pinstripes. Running onto the field at any time is reprehensible (although often entertaining) but whenever that final out and ensuing celebration is replayed, it will look like Gary Carter is in there celebrating with everyone. Given his courageous battle with cancer and his place in Mets history, I can’t help but think that it is fitting that “The Kid” somehow be a part of last night – even if it comes from a fan making a child-like impulse decision to run onto the field.
Johan is a class act and he couldn’t stop thanking everyone. He constantly referred to the no-hitter as something “we” accomplished and for a clubhouse that has had excellent camaraderie all season, being a part of last night will only bring them closer together. Johan will go down in Mets history, just as June 1, 2012 will go down in history, just as Baxter’s catch, the ump’s call and the fan who ran onto the field will go down in history. It all happened and I’ll never forget it.