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Twin Thrilling

The Mets are the team that made Johan Santana three years ago. Would getting a walk-off win in return for that be too much to ask?

Let me offer a better explanation and that requires flashing back to June 9, 2004, when Santana was just an ordinary pitcher. Yes, he was coming off a 12-3 campaign the year before, but he entered his start against the Mets having dropped four starts in a row, allowing 19 runs in 22 1/3 innings in that stretch. So ordinary seems an apt choice of word considering he was 2-4 with a 5.50 ERA.

I have a vague recollection of the game that night and the New York Times story barely acknowledges how good Santana was, because much of the focus was on the hangover from the day before, a 2-1 walk-off loss, and the game most people remember from this series was the next day's, a 15-inning defeat best recalled for Matt Lecroy's "mad dash" to score the tying run . Santana allowed one run in seven innings, struck out 10, and won 5-3. It's a sign of how much the Mets have been rebuilt that none of the players in that night's starting lineup are with this team today. Kaz Matsui struck out three times. Mike Cameron was quite upset about his two whiffs.

``I think this will be the beginning of something good,'' Santana told reporters after the game.

He was right. The biggest thing that came out of this game is that, all of a sudden, Johan Santana became an elite pitcher. Not just elite. Super-elite. This started a streak of 11 straight starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer. He lost only twice the rest of the season and in those games he allowed a total of four runs and five hits over 16 innings. Starting with that Mets game, Santana's record for the rest of the 2004 was 18-2. He went 16-7 in 2005 and 19-6 in 2006, with sub-three ERAs. Both seasons, of course, were "Mets-free."

Beginning from that Mets game, all the way through to today, Santana is 59-21 with a 2.55 ERA. That's as good as anything I've seen in my lifetime (purposely ignoring Roger Clemens since the man is a criminal and condones cheating).

So now Santana faces the Mets for the first time since that date and once again, he's struggling (if you can call 6-6 with losses in his last two decisions a struggle). Considering that the Mets helped him out a few seasons ago, there's hope amongst the Flushing faithful for a kind payback in return tonight. I'll say this: Tuesday's game will be a much better measuring stick as to whether the Mets have recovered from their own woes than Monday was.

True Mettanas know...Rafael Santana never had a walk-off hit for the Mets.


Unknown said…
As a Twins fan I can safely say that Minnesota's lack of run production with Johan Santana on the mound is unlikely to change tonight. Though truth be told, if that Nationals guy (I had to look it up, Levale Speigner) can shut down the Twins lineup, anyone can.

One thing in the Twins' favor -- Santana is a better hitter than someone Mets fans might be familiar with, our sometimes designated "hitter" Jason Tyner. Tyner can't even hit in Google -- you put in just his last name and he's not on the first page.
Anonymous said…
Clemens condones and cheats. Are the Mets any better re-signing Mota (and that's when the s**t hit the fan and the losing began--upon his 2-year return from HGH suspension).
metswalkoffs said…
Yes, the bad karma (and bad pitching) that have come from Mota's return have not gone unnoticed.

A fair point, except that Roger Clemens holds his own special position of hatred among those who should be frequenting this blog.

PS: Please sign your name next time. I allow anonymous posts, but I don't like them.
Anonymous said…
Not to be snarky, but if my handle was "Mets#1" one time and "CleonJonesRules" the next time an any more accurate measure of the zeitgeist? OK, I'll come up with a handle.
I utterly DESPISE Clemens for many reasons. But I love the Mets (save for Mota and a few others--and thanks for being on my wavelength with that, I'm tired of the Mota apologists), and they are breaking my heart.
metswalkoffs said…
You're not being snarky. I just like to know who my readers are. I usually, if I don't know them, shoot them an e-mail thanking them for commenting, whether I agree or not.

Thanks for commenting.

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