The Mets returned home after an impressive road trip and had played for twenty consecutive days. After a much needed off day on Thursday, New York welcomed the defending World Series champions, the St. Louis Cardinals to town for a four-game series. Mets fans had no idea that they were about to experience history made from their ace Johan Santana at Citi Field.
The Mets celebrated their 50th anniversary on opening day this season, and the only stat the franchise had never been a able to achieve, has been a no-hitter. Since the birth of the organization in 1962, Mets fans have experienced two championships, several players hitting for the cycle, record-braking home runs, dazzling catches made, home plate being stolen, and Mike Piazza reviving sports in New York post-9/11. But more was to come on Friday night when Mets superstar pitcher Johan Santana took the mound against the reigning champs. Santana came into the game with a record of 2-2 and was trying to help the Mets move closer to first place in the standings.
As the game got underway, the young pitcher from Venezuela had great control of his slider and change-up as he breezed through the first three innings. In the bottom of the fourth, the Mets got on the board first by scoring three runs on two sharp hits for an early 2-0 lead. New York added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on a Lucas Duda three-run dinger to give Santana a comfortable 5-0 lead. In the top of the seventh inning, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina hit a bullet to left field which Mike Baxter made a spectacular catch while slamming into the wall to keep the no-hitter alive. The Mets tacked on three more runs in the seventh to extend their lead to 8-0 over the Cardinals. Then Santana took over from there, firing heat, constantly changing pitches, and most importantly getting batters out. As the game went on, so did Santana’s pitch count which got manager Terry Collins worried. But everyone in the building sensed that this can be something really special and Collins eventually left him there.
Santana took the no-no into the ninth after escaping in the eight and all 27,069 fans at Citi Field were at their all-time loudest. He needed just three more outs to make history. He quickly got out Holliday and Craig for the first two outs of the inning. Then it was just World Series MVP David Freese that stood between Santana and the no-hitter. Freese worked the count full, and Santana threw a change up to strike him out and make history. His teammates mobbed him on the field, fans in the stands went absolutely wild, and the NY Mets franchise had a big reason to celebrate. After 8,020 games played, 50 years of baseball, and many starting pitchers, the Mets had their first ever no hitter. Santana threw a career high 134 pitches, good for eight strike outs to go into Major League Baseball’s record books.
Mets starting pitchers R.A. dickey and Jonathan Niese followed up Santana’s brilliant performance with a impressive wins of their own on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The Cardinals managed to bounce back and win the final game of the series 5-4. But regardless of the finale, what a weekend of baseball it was at Citi Field.