I know the Twins are in the middle of their second to last game of the regular season, and are holding a 1/2 game lead over the White Sox. But there's something unrelated to the Twins that I need to write about.
On Tuesday, Johan Santana threw 125 pitches and picked up the win to help the Mets in their hunt for a playoff spot. Despite that, the highest pitch total of his career, Santana was called upon to pitch today, Saturday, on three days rest. I checked into the game in the fourth, and saw Santana had allowed only one hit, one walk, and zero runs; the Mets led 1-0. I thought to myself that it would be a fantastic outing if Santana were to give the Mets six shutout innings, the kind of thing a special pitcher would do. I kept Gameday open after that and checked it periodically.
Upon checking in during the bottom of the sixth inning, I saw Santana had thrown 88 pitches and figured he was done. Six innings, zero runs, exactly what I had thought would be an excellent outing. The seventh inning started and he came back out, which was mildly surprising to me. A quick inning, and his pitch total moved up to 97. Bottom of the seventh inning comes, with Santana due to bat second. No doubt they bring in a pinch hitter. As you probably know, they don't. With that, it's obvious Jerry Manuel is planning to have him pitch the eighth-- I'm shocked, to say the least.
One pitch, one out in the eighth. Two more pitches, another out. A four-pitch strikeout, and he's through the eighth. Still, the Mets are up just 2-0. 104 pitches, and you've got to figure Manuel trusts someone in that bullpen enough to pull Santana. But, after a scoreless bottom of the inning, Santana trots back out to the mound. Gets a strikeout, then Josh Willingham doubles to deep left center. Finally, he's done, right?
No. On three straight changeups, Santana fans Dan Uggla. Then he gets Cody Ross to flyout to the warning track in left field. Game over. Johan Santana's final line: 9.0 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 0 R, 117 pitches. A 3-hit complete game shutout on three days rest after throwing a career high number of pitches in his last outing. And, in case you forgot, it was all with the Mets' season on the line.
And, if you think it's all for nought if the Mets don't make the playoffs, you're wrong. With rumors that Cliff Lee won't start Sunday, Santana may have clinched the MLB ERA title, moving his down to 2.53, just below Lee's 2.54. Hey, he earned it with those nine innings. And he needed all of them too.