Making history has not been easy for the Mets. Of course they are famous for the “Year the Mets Lost Last Place” as the “Miracle Mets” in 1969, when they won the World Series after seven years of finishing either in last, or next to last place. But as far as standard baseball achievements, some of them, like pitching a no-hitter game, have been long in coming.
But last Friday at Citi Field that bit of statistics was about to change. Johan Santana, a two-time Cy Young award recipient, pitched the game that brought the crowds to their feet and his fellow players to the mound in a giant, group hug after the last pitch was thrown. The final score was 8-0 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Mets manager Terry Collins wanted to be cautious with Santana. Last year Santana missed the entire season recovering from shoulder surgery. This year Collins set a strict limit on Santana that he only throw 115 pitches per game, in addition to taking days off every now and then, just to be sure the shoulder wasn’t unduly strained. By the end of the game Santana had thrown 134 pitches, a record for him.
So, in the ninth inning of the Mets 8,020th game, after 51 years of playing professional baseball in New York, David Freese, last year’s World Series’ most valuable player, struck out swinging, bringing tears to many eyes, and a much coveted, and certainly well-earned, but of baseball history not only to Santana, the Mets, but to New Yorkers as well.
“I know how much this means to New York and to the New York Mets” Santana said.