Posts Tagged ‘Johan Santana’

When Santana’s On the Mound, It’s Money in the Bank

April 11, 2010

I’ve started a new tradition of trying to see the Mets play on Opening Day no matter where they’re playing. Last season’s opener at Cincinnati almost didn’t happen—foul, rainy weather that threatened a rain-out and since it was on a Monday, I had to call in sick to work (when in reality I was in Cincy praying that my flight wouldn’t be canceled or the game delayed.) Everything worked out, the Mets won and I even saw a pre-scandal Steve Phillips on my flight home.

Fast forward to this year: much less stressful. Took a personal day, great weather, decent nosebleeds seats, got a buzz at the new McFadden’s after the game, even managed to enter the ballpark early enough to receive one of those miniature Citi Field Home Run Apples as a souvenir. The apple also functions as a bank so I’ve decided to drop a quarter in the slot every time the Mets win. At the moment, there is a whopping fifty cents in there symbolizing their first two victories. If it wasn’t for a game-saving grab by Nationals left fielder Willie Harris in yesterday’s game, I would have accumulated another twenty five cents.

Nonetheless, today’s another day and I like my odds with Johan Santana on the mound. In seven career starts against the Nationals, the ace left-hander averages a little more than seven strikeouts a game with a won-lost record of 6-1 and an ERA of 2.63. I would have to say there’s a pretty good chance that I will be adding to my booty.

Another reason to feel confident that Santana and the Mets will emerge victorious this afternoon is that their counterpart, right-hander Livan Hernandez, age unknown, will be starting for the Nationals. Hernandez, in 33 career starts against the Mets, has allowed an average of seven hits to go along with a 4.58 ERA. Mets batters are hitting .289 with 25 homers, tied with the most by any major league team.

Mets fans will be the first to tell you that on days when Santana doesn’t pitch the likelihood of a Mets win is not so easy to compute. On this day, however, my gut tells me that I’ll be up twenty-five more cents by the end of the day.

Let’s Go Mets!

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Opening Day for Mets Fans Allows Their Imagination to Run Wild

April 4, 2010

In the mid-nineteen eighties, the New York Mets were building a dynasty. With just one season removed from an emotionally charged 1986 World Championship season, the hometown heroes were at it again.

September 22, 1988, Manager Davy Johnson is still at the helm alongside his trusty pitching coach, Mel Stottlemyer. An RC Cola billboard enters the television screen, horns are blaring, and the both of them are shown standing in amazement as their starting pitcher, Ron Darling, bats in the bottom of the eighth inning.

In the previous top half of the inning, Stottlemyer had just paid a visit to the mound to check on the strength of his right-hander. At first glance, with runners at the corners, you could easily sense that Darling may have run out of gas. On nothing more than fumes, Darling then proceeded to retire the side by inducing a six-four-three double play.

Champagne about to blow, “We are the champions of the world,” close to drowning out the exhilarating roars of the Shea Stadium crowd, a quick cut to the NYPD in riot gear riding horseback, the Mets would go on to win the ball game and earn Ron Darling a complete game victory.

After clinching their second NL East division title in three years, the 1988 NY Mets set their sights on the California coast. Their arrogance was obvious. Their confidence none other than a layer of hard-fought determination to prove that that magical ’86 season was no fluke. Unfortunately for the Mets, they were unable to reach the World Series in ’88.

It’s now September 22, 2010, Mets left-hander Johan Santana is in the batter’s box in the bottom of the eighth inning. A broad smile is showing on the face of Pitching Coach Dan Warthen, an even broader smile on the face of their skipper, Jerry Manuel. Citi Field is shaking. The inevitable has finally materialized. The unthinkable has found itself front and center. The bottom half of the eighth inning has run its course. Santana is then asked to take the hill in the top of the ninth with the hopes that he will be able to finish what he started.

Ron Darling, who is now coincidentally sitting in the SNY broadcast booth watching and listening to the screams and hollers of all the rabid Mets fans, decides to take a backseat to Santana’s gutsy performance. After an earlier run scoring double by left fielder Jason Bay that all but secured the Mets 6-2 lead, Santana completes the final three outs in one-two-three fashion.

Raising his arms to the sky, tackled by his teammates, the negative force now lifted, the southpaw turns towards those Mets fans in attendance and shouts, “anything is possible.”

For 2010, Mets Ask Fans to Just Believe

February 15, 2010

In the next few days, the city of Port St. Lucie, Fla. will be officially open for business as it kicks off the Spring Training portion of the Mets 2010 season. Coming off such a sour year in which they finished in fourth place with ninety-two losses, a fresh start is most definitely in order.

With injuries to key players and poor pitching being the main causes for such a forgettable season last year, heading into this upcoming season ultimately pain-free and ready to go is all you can expect at this point. If you speak to anyone affiliated with the Mets from season ticket holders down to those responsible for checking their tickets you would be met with the same consensus.

“I believe that we are going to improve,” Mets ace Johan Santana has said. “We weren’t a full team last year.”

“Baseball is a fun game,” he added. “If guys try to do too much… and not try to do someone else’s job, we will be fine.”

Even though the Mets front office, ownership included, were unable to acquire a front-line starter to complement the left-handed Santana, there is no question that Mets players and coaches are excited to get this part of the baseball season underway.

Along with newly-acquired free agent slugger Jason Bay, the Mets expect to have their catalyst back, shortstop Jose Reyes, at one hundred percent. With a healthy Reyes in the Mets lineup, manager Jerry Manuel would likely have lesser things to worry about.

Pitching Coach Dan Warthen, on the other hand, is banking on three of his projected starters, Oliver Perez, John Maine, and Mike Pelfrey, to undergo a complete turn-around from last season. Maine and Perez are coming off injuries and Pelfrey is searching for whatever was lost during his second full season with the Mets.

“Pelfrey loves the challenge,” Santana said. “He’s dropped twenty pounds and has been telling a lot of people that he wants to win.”

“Maine has the stuff to be a starter,” he added.

Regarding Perez, Santana replied, “Ollie has to get back to being Ollie.”

Not only will the Mets not have one of their perennial leaders in centerfielder Carlos Beltran at the beginning of the season due to injury, they will also not be carrying veteran Carlos Delgado as well. Delgado has remained unsigned as he makes his comeback from major hip surgery.

“When I think of a veteran, I think of a leader, like Carlos Delgado,” Maine said in a recent interview with Mets Blog’s Matthew Cerrone. “Someone else is going to have to fill that void. I just think what he’s done, who he is, and his demeanor…he was perfect for that,” he added.

The theme of this season is entitled, “We Believe in Comebacks.” If the Mets can stay healthy and their starting rotation can perform to their potential, perhaps, Mets fans will allow themselves to start believing again and have faith that things are moving in a positive direction.

In closing, since 2006, the NL East division from top to bottom has gotten exponentially better. For the Mets to have a winning chance at the division this season, its imperative that they remain healthy and stay consistent throughout the year. And also hope that the players they currently have in place are able to produce better numbers than they have in the past.

Let’s Go Mets!

Mini-Camp Offers Some Progress

January 28, 2010

At the end of the day on Wednesday, the Mets concluded a three-day mini-camp inside Port St. Lucie, Fla., their Spring Training facility, and categorized it as a job well done. For manager Jerry Manuel that may be the case but what did Mets fans get out of this?

They have realized that for the time being, there will be no new faces but just happier more excited faces among their starting rotation. “I’m excited,” Oliver Perez said. “I feel very good.” Healthier and stronger, or even, leaner faces.

“The main key for us is to stay healthy, stay on the field.” Johan Santana said.

The harsh reality for the Mets pitching staff particularly their starters entering the upcoming season is that the majority of them has either undergone surgery or are rehabbing from injury.

“If we stay healthy, we can be very competitive this season.”

Some beat writers have used this mantra by GM Omar Minaya against him. They have proposed the idea that Minaya is already preparing his defense if the Mets happen to experience the same fate as last year’s.

For now, Mets fans have to entrust that Minaya’s lack of off-season moves will allow them to forget the past and look toward the future.

For Mets Fans, I Think It’s Safe to Wave the White Flag

August 26, 2009

Where to begin? The Mets announced yesterday that Johan Santana’s 2009 season has come to an end. Assuming all goes well with his surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow, the Mets ace will be back in time for the start of next year’s Spring Training. With all the injuries that have befallen on the Mets this year, this latest diagnosis of Santana could be considered the final straw, the last nail in the coffin, putting a team out of its misery, or beating a man when he’s down, whatever cliché you want to use – the Mets are officially done. You could even say they are overdone.

Since the departure of Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, and John Maine, the Mets have been a model of inconsistency. In professional sports, baseball included, staying healthy throughout the course of a season is essential. The Mets and their fans have learned that lesson the hard way.

After last night’s 2-1 lost to the Florida Marlins at Land Shark Stadium, Mets manager Jerry Manuel proceeded to answer questions. He looked like a man who had just spent the night in an airport. A man whose travel plans had been delayed due to his flight being cancelled. When asked if last night’s starter, right-hander Nelson Figueroa, deserved another shot in the Mets rotation, Manuel nonchalantly said, “Yeah…why not.”

In Defeat, Mets Showcase Three Very Good Pitchers

August 21, 2009

Aside from participating in another series loss, this time to the Atlanta Braves, Mets fans last night were given the chance to witness three of the league’s more dominant pitchers. The night began with Mets left-hander, Johan Santana, who despite picking up his ninth loss of the season pitched seven strong innings. Nonetheless, the stage belonged to former Mets closer Billy Wagner. The veteran left-hander was activated prior to the game on Thursday and then asked to start the eighth inning. Wagner did not disappoint. After warming up to his signature theme song, “Enter Sandman,” he went on to pitch a one-two-three-inning. In addition to a scoreless eighth, Wagner struck out two and retired Mets fans’ ultimate arch-enemy, Chipper Jones.

Taking advantage of Wagner’s return, the Mets were able to close the gap, 3-2, by scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Playing to win at home, Mets manager Jerry Manuel brought in his closer, Francisco Rodriguez, who managed to get himself out of a jam with runners on first and second and one out by inducing a double-play. The Mets failed to tie the score in the bottom half of the ninth as they picked up their 65th loss of the season and fell fourteen-and-a-half games in back of the Phillies.

Wait, it gets worse, the Mets open up a four-game series against those first-place Phillies tonight at Citi Field.

Umpiring Delay Has No Effect on Santana’s Latest Victory

August 10, 2009

When home plate umpire Randy Marsh left under his own power during yesterday’s game, he was visibly shaken up from the previous play. Marsh was struck in the face mask by a foul tip off the bat of Padres pinch hitter Luis Gonzalez in the bottom of the fifth inning. At the time of the incident, Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana was clinging to a 1-0 lead. Marsh never did return to the game which meant that Marvin Hudson, the crew chief, was relegated to calling the remaining balls and strikes. In all, the act of replacing Marsh lasted a total of thirteen minutes.

For some pitchers, having to stop pitching for any length of time could force them to lose their focus on the task at hand. Fortunately for the Mets, Santana stayed sharp. He completed eight efficient innings and earned his thirteenth win of the season. The left-hander surrendered just one run on five hits lowering his earned run average to an even 3.00.

On another picture-perfect day in Southern California, the Mets offense continued their struggles and failed to exploit San Diego’s patchwork pitching staff. Tim Stauffer, the Padres starting pitcher, held Mets batters in check for five innings by striking out six. He allowed just five hits and one run. Eventually, Stauffer’s day would be done as he was lifted for a pinch hitter. The Mets seized the opportunity and jumped on Padres reliever Edward Mujica in the sixth inning by plating three runs on three hits along with a little help from San Diego’s defense. The Padres would score a run in the bottom half of the sixth to make it, 4-1, but today’s game belonged to Johan Santana.

“He is truly a competitor in every sense of the word,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said when asked to comment on his left-hander yesterday.

In an ideal world, the Mets wish they could have their star pitcher out there everyday.

Beard or No Beard, Mets Struggling for Wins

August 9, 2009

With their eighth loss in their last ten games last night, it looks as if more and more Mets players have opted for shaving off a week’s worth of facial hair. For Alex Cora, who stroked his first home run last night in what seemed like a dog’s age, he may want to hold off on that decision for now. If you recall, the ball club as a whole decided to forgo any attempt at maintaining a clean-cut look until they reached a record equal to five hundred.

Since that executive decision was initiated, the Mets have gone into a free fall and are currently eight games below that mark at 51-59. In addition, the Mets have shown no signs that they are close to turning things around. In three games against the San Diego Padres, the Mets as a team have batted just .206 and have managed only six runs. On the mound, the pitching staff has not helped the current situation either by adding to their major league lead in walks with eighteen.

The four-game series with the Padres at PETCO Park concludes this afternoon. The Mets will send their stopper, Johan Santana, to the mound with the hopes that he can avoid a series sweep.

Some Have Been Known to Say That Home Runs Are Part of the Game

June 10, 2009

If you happen to be one of the unlucky Mets fans who were unable to catch the game last night but were able to listen in and hear Mets starting pitcher, Johan Santana, pinpoint each one of his mistakes during the post-game press conference, you might have thought that the Mets had lost. If for some unfortunate incident last night Santana was not awarded the victory for his sub-par performance then the storyline may have read, Mets’ ace tagged for four home runs compliments of the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies. There was no doubt that last night’s 6-5 win by the Mets was one of those games that when it was all said and done, Mets fans would find a pile of pulled out hair atop their coffee tables.

Each Philadelphia extra-base hit that cleared a section of the Citi Field wall sent a strong message to all who were in attendance last night and to the rest of the league for that matter that no ball park could hold Philadelphia’s free-swinging, homer-heavy lineup in check. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins smacked a two-run dinger in the top half of the sixth inning that put the Phillies ahead, 4-3, and without hesitation forced every one of the 37,000 screaming Mets fans to doubt their ace’s staying power for the evening. At that point in the game, I’ll be honest. I was heard in the next room accusing Santana of being a chucker. Eventually, the Mets would regain the lead but would receive a scare when Phillies second baseman Chase Utley’s solo home run soared just over the shortest part of the right field wall in the top of the seventh inning quietly bringing his team to within a run.

The Mets did however prevail with a power stroke of their own. Third baseman David Wright and centerfielder Carlos Beltran went plenty deep to give the Mets an early 3-0 lead, which is to say that Santana received more than enough run support for the evening. Nonetheless, it was right fielder Ryan Church’s solo blast that landed inside Citi Field’s version of the Homerun Apple in the bottom of the seventh that proved to be the difference in the ballgame.

“Yeah, it’s a big win for us,” Church said after the game. “We win tomorrow and we win the series.”

Tonight, the Mets will be looking towards right-hander Mike Pelfrey to bounce back after a tough outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he lasted just three and two-thirds innings and gave up a total of eight earned runs. Philadelphia will be sending their top left-hander, Cole Hamels, to the mound with the hope of having Church’s prophecy go unfulfilled.

Pittsburgh Gives Mets Fans a Quick and Painless Defeat

June 3, 2009

As a baseball fan, finding enjoyment in your team when they prove themselves victorious is just as important as loathing them when they struggle through a loss. Within a 162-game schedule, even very good teams manage to drop forty-five percent of their games. Mets fans in May were able to experience winning more so than losing as their ballclub produced a 19-9 record for the entire month. With that, subjecting them to an 0-2 start for June may feel as if the whole world is crashing down. It’s no secret that the Mets current roster looks more like a fourth-place team than a ballclub that is built for the post-season.

Ask Mets skipper Jerry Manuel and he most likely will agree. “We need some of our big guys to get hot,” was Manuel’s actual response. Reading between the lines, the Mets manager was probably alluding to David Wright. The Mets third baseman’s offensive output has dwindled during these last five games. Wright is hitting just 2 for his last 21 with no RBI and eight strikeouts. The good thing for Wright though is that he still has a batting average well above three hundred. With centerfielder Carlos Beltran scratched for his third straight start with a stomach virus and their clean-up hitter, Gary Sheffield, battling soreness in his right leg, the Mets are left with very little options in producing a big inning.

In desperation, Manuel called on his pitching staff and pleaded with them to carry the load while the majority of his position players lick their wounds. What Manuel needed most was a signature performance from his ace, Johan Santana, to help stop the bleeding. Santana was cruising along fine for the first four innings. Heading into the bottom of the fifth, he was staked with a 1-0 lead. However, as quick as Santana arrived at that lead, Pirates catcher Jason Jaramillo managed to single-handedly evaporate it. Jaramillo took the left-hander deep with a fastball. It was the sixth homerun surrendered by Santana this season. After a one-two-three top of the sixth inning for the Mets, the Pirates got to the Mets left-hander again. This time around with a string of extra-base hits that plated two more runs and put the Pirates ahead, 3-1.

On this night, it would be the Pirates bullpen not the Mets relievers who would successfully hold down their opposition and set up their closer, Matt Capps, to record his twelfth save.