Saturday, June 2, 2012

Johan Santana Throws First No-Hitter In Mets History

Friday, June 1st 2012
Final Score: St. Louis Cardinals: 0 New York Mets: 8
Johan Santana had to wait what was an excruciating 19 months in between MLB starts, but that seems like a blink of an eye for Mets fans after seeing Santana pitch tonight.  Santana tonight pitched the first no-hitter in New York Met history.  The record lasted for more than 50 seasons, totaling 8,019 games without a no-hitter.  This leaves the San Diego Padres as the only team left in the majors without a no-hitter.

It was a career night for Santana, who has never thrown even a one or two hitter but throwing a three hitter on five different occasions.  In addition to being his first no hitter as well as the first in Mets history, Santana set a career high for pitches thrown with 134.  The original plan, according to manager Terry Collins, was to have Santana on a 115 pitch limit.  Those plans had to be tweaked with history within reach as Santana finished off the 8th inning at 122 pitches.  A reason for the high pitch count was the five walks in addition to seven strikeouts Santana accumulated throughout the game.  The raucous crowd of 27,069 could be heard chanting “Johan” as he came to bat in the 8th inning before finishing off the game in the 9th.

Much like anything in history, more than one person plays a part in the outcome.  Tonight, the Mets defense stepped up behind Santana.  In the 7th inning on a hard hit ball my Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, left fielder Mike Baxter crashed into the wall with his arm outstretched preserving the no hitter.  Baxter would have to leave as a result of the play with a left shoulder contusion and will undergo further testing.
Another play in question involves former Met Carlos Beltran, who was returning to Queens for the first time since being traded last season, and 3rd base umpire Adrian Johnson.  Beltran ripped a line drive down the 3rd base line which was ruled foul by Johnson.  The Cardinals argued that the ball was far, as Beltran would eventually ground out to end the at-bat.  Replays later proved to be inconclusive, but could be argued as either hitting the chalk or missing it.  “I saw the ball hitting outside the line, just foul,” Johnson is quoted as saying to reporters after the game.  After being shown the replay, Johnson was asked what he thought and he replied with, “No comment.”

In addition to Santana’s sterling performance, the 3-4-5 hitters David Wright, Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy, the heart of the Mets lineup, delivered big time production knocking in all eight Met runs.  Duda had four R.B.I. including a 3-run homerun on the 6th inning of Cardinal starting pitcher Adam Wainwright.  Murphy added two 2-our R.B.I., with three total with Wright getting his R.B.I. on a bases loaded walk in the 7th inning.

Up next for the Mets and Cardinals is the second game of their four game series at 4:15 P.M. ET.  R.A. Dickey (7-1, 3.06 ERA) takes the mound for the Mets versus Lance Lynn (8-1, 2.54 ERA) of the Cardinals in a match-up against two of the most surprising and top pitchers in the majors this season.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hughes Pitching Himself Out of the Rotation

Phil Hughes entered the 2012 season as a question mark for the Yankees. Since his 18-8 season of 2010, Phil Hughes has struggled to become the top flight pitcher the Yankees were hoping he could become.

The Yankees pitching rotation took a hit when Michael Pineda went down with a season ending injury. The team decided to bring back fan favorite Andy Pettitte to help their rotation. With the return of Pettitte, one pitcher would be the odd man out, and be sent to the bullpen. The Yankees had to decide between Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes on who they would send to the pen. They choose to send Garcia, who has had a season to forget, to figure out his troubles in the bullpen.

Hughes has not given the Yankees a reason to keep him in the rotation, but the Yankees have given Hughes a second chance. Hughes is 4-5 this season with 49 strikeouts, 13 walks, and a 5.64 ERA. In his last start against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Angels tattooed Hughes for 11 hits, and 7 runs, both season highs, in 5.1 innings of work.

Hughes has made it passed the sixth inning just three times this season, and has pitched into the eighth inning once. With a depleted bullpen, the Yankees need quality starts out of their starting rotation, and Hughes has not delivered so far this season.

Now the question must be asked, what will the Yankees do with Phil Hughes? The bullpen seems like the easy choice, and could fix Hughes' problems, but his past bullpen performances are nothing to be excited about. During the 2009 championship run, Hughes came out of the bullpen for the Yankees. In 6.1 innings during the postseason, Hughes gave up 11 hits and 6 runs.

If the Yankees were to put Hughes on the trade block, it is unclear what they could get for him. He has not helped his value with his starts this season, and teams may be turned off by the number of home runs given up by Hughes already this season.

The Yankees have options as to what they want to do with Hughes, but what is going to help Hughes get his "mojo" back? It will be interesting to see what they decide to to with Hughes, if he cannot pick up his game and start giving the Yankees the kind of starts they expect.