Something is not right with Johan Santana. He just hasn't been the same since throwing the first no-hitter in New York Mets history on June 1.
The lefty was bombed for six runs on seven hits, including a pair of two-run home runs by Matt Kemp and the light-hitting Luis Cruz, as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the New York Mets, 7-6, on Friday, July 20 at Citi Field. It was the third straight start in which Santana surrendered at least six runs. Go back a few more starts, eight to be exact, and he is 3-5 with an earned run average of 6.54.
Nine starts ago, everything was fine. After missing the previous season recovering from shoulder surgery, Santana tossed his memorable no-no against the St. Louis Cardinals and lowered his ERA to 2.49 on the year. But he needed 134 pitches to do it. At the time, it was a footnote to history. Now Mets fans have to wonder if the high pitch count altered Santana's season.
"That no-hitter stuff was a long time ago; I don't think that has anything to do with it," Santana told the team's official Web site. "I'm just going through a tough time."
I want to believe him. So do the Mets. But the stats don't lie. So manager Terry Collins is considering having Santana skip a start or two. That could mean a trip to the disabled list to rest his weary arm. It's the last thing the pitching-thin Mets need right now, but they may have to do it. I had no problem with Santana throwing 134 pitches at the time of his no-hitter -- few Mets fans did. But now I have to wonder if the right move is to shut him down for a couple of weeks.
"I don't feel my best right now, but at the same time, I'm not trying to find any excuses or anything," Santana told Mets.com. "I'm not executing my pitches. I'm not commanding my fastball, and I get behind in the count. When I try to throw strikes, I'm getting hurt. That's not the way I pitch."
I sincerely hope Santana is not hurt, but he is hurting the Mets.
Adam Martini is a freelance sportswriter who grew up in Queens, N.Y. with a view of Shea Stadium from his bedroom window. He spent many nights in the upper deck at Shea rooting for the Mets. You can follow him on Twitter @PegCitySports.
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