50 years. Over 8,000 games. Headed into tonight's game with the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, with former teammate Carlos Beltran returning to New York for the first time since he was traded to San Francisco 11 months ago, the Mets had never had a no-hitter.
The list of pitchers who've hurled no-no's after leaving Flushing Meadows, Queens, includes a pair of Hall of Famers in Nolan Ryan (7) and Tom Seaver, who hurled his after he'd been traded to Cincinnati. Dwight Gooden & David Cone had theirs across town with the Yankees. Philip Humber, a prized prospect a few short years ago, hurled one just a few weeks ago for the Chicago White Sox.
Tonight, Mets ace Johan Santana, making a case for Comeback Player of the Year after missing all of 2011 recovering from shoulder surgery, used veteran guile, and got a little help from Lady Luck, in taking the biggest monkey on the Mets' collective backs and tossing it aside, once and for all. Setting a new career high with 134 pitches, Santana struck out World Series hero David Freese to end the game. Santana's gem was by no means perfect. He'd walked five. Beltran nearly spoiled the party in the 6th inning, but a drive to left was ruled foul even though it clearly struck the chalk line before crossing into foul territory. Umpire Adrian Johnson held firm on his ruling. How often has that happened in cases like this? Had Beltran been credited with a hit, it would've been business as usual. Instead, Santana continued on course with destiny. The Mets' offense did the rest, putting the game away with 6 runs in the 7th off St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright, the same man who closed the door on the Mets' pennant hopes 6 years earlier in the NLCS as the Cards' closer. Poetic justice? Perhaps.
The injury plague that has cursed the Mets since Citi Field opened 3 years ago struck again, with outfielder Mike Baxter the latest victim. He made a highlight reel catch in the 7th, crashing into the left field wall to brace himself, but had to be helped off the field. It was later reported he'd suffered a contusion in his left shoulder. However, the plague would not deter Santana. The final score reads, Mets 8, Cardinals 0. Perhaps it is a sign that maybe, just maybe, the Mets, once again, are meant to be destiny's children come October, just as they were in 1969 and 1986. It took 17 years between those titles. This year, should the Mets make the playoffs and reach the Series, would be 16 years between titles if they go all the way and win. Right now, you have to believe they are the team no one wants to face. Well, no one that's expected to be a playoff team, anyway. The no-hitter may be just part of the plan, after all.