Friday night June 1st, 2012: At first it seemed like any other New York night. Terry Collins' New York Mets were playing well & surprising everyone with a 29-23 record, just one game out of first place. 27,069 fans came to Citi Field to see the Mets go up against the reigning World Champion, St Louis Cardinals (27-25).
The Mets sent Johan Santana to the mound, 2-2 with a 2.75 ERA. Santana had missed all of 2011 due to injury, he had an impressive Opening Day win, pitching five scoreless innings then struggled. In his last start he threw a complete game four hit shutout at Citi Field, beating the San Diego Padres. On this night he was even better, he went out & made Mets history.
After a quiet 1st inning, he walked two batters in the 2nd but struck out Matt Adams & Tyler Green to end the inning. Santana would walk the lead off batters in the 4th & 5th innings but retired the sides with no trouble.
In the 6th, ex-Met Carlos Beltran drilled a line drive down the line that was called a foul ball. Replays showed the ball may have been fair, but the ruling was a foul ball & that's that. A one two three sixth inning, had everyone feeling the no hitter looming.
The Mets were well ahead with a 5-0 lead at this point.
In the home 4th, Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled & David Wright doubled. Luca Duda followed with a sac fly making it 1-0. Daniel Murphy then tripled off the Cards; Adam Wainwright to make it 2-0. In the 6th Lucas Duda blasted a three run HR over the right centerfield wall.
In the 7th inning Santana got David Freese to pop out to first base, there were eight outs to go for the no hitter.
The next batter was Yadier Molina, a Mets villain who had the winning HR in the 2006 NLCS. Molina was out to spoil another Mets historic day, he hit a fly ball deep to left field. Queens born Mike Baxter chased the ball which was hit over his head, he made a leaping catch crashing into the left field wall & fell to the ground. He injured himself but held on to the ball for out number two.
Everyone held their breath during the play, but a huge sigh of relief came when Baxter made one of the most important catches in Mets history. Baxter was removed from the game but got a huge ovation as he left & big thank you from Santana.
Matt Adams grounded out for the third out, six more outs to go for Mets history. In the home 7th, the Mets scored two more runs as David Wright walked with the bases loaded & Daniel Murphy singled another run in, 8-0 Mets.
In the top of the 8th, Tyler Greene flew out to left & pinch hitter; Shane Robinson struck out. Carlos Beltran then hit a weak liner up the middle, but Murphy was able to make a nice grab to end the inning.
By this time Santana had passed his usual pitch count & everyone was wondering if he would be pulled. But Manager Terry Collins & pitching coach Dan Warthan knew how important this game was to the organization & to the fans.
Santana came out for the 9th, the crowd cheered & remained on their feet as they had been. The viewers at home held their breath as well.
Matt Holliday lined out to centerfield, on another close play but Andres Torres made a fine catch.
With Two more outs to go for history. Allen Craig then flew out to left for out #2. With the fans going wild, David Freese struck out swinging & Johan Santana had thrown the first no hitter in Mets history.
There had been 35 one hitters thrown by Mets pitchers, and though many have come close, it was on this night it was done for the very first time.
The announcers knew how important it was to the us long time fans as did Santana himself. He said "I am very happy & happy for you guys, the first one" as he acknowledged the Citi Field crowd after the game.
Mets broadcaster; Gary Cohen called it: "He struck him out! It has happened. In their 51st season, Johan Santana has thrown the first no-hitter in New York Mets history.”
Throughout the game us longtime Mets fans, could not help but think of Tom Seaver & Dwight Gooden, the two best pitchers the franchise has ever had. They both came close, especially Seaver who tossed five one hitters. Guys like Jon Matlack, Gary Gentry , Tom Glavine & David Cone had all thrown two Mets one hitters each. Steve Traschel threw three Mets one hitters but Santana the only no hitter.
Former Met; Nolan Ryan, who has throw seven no hitters & a Mets one hitter said it best; "They've had a lot of history of one-hitters, and it's because of the great pitchers they've had there. When you think of Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden there, and some of the other guys, it's amazing they never did."
Mets third baseman David Wright said; "Short of Tom Seaver, I couldn't think of a better guy to have this recognition."
During the post game interview; Justin Turner gave Johan a cream pie to the face. It was a Turner tradition but maybe out of line on this special occasion.