Johan Santana: First Mets Pitcher to Throw a No Hitter (2008 - 2013)

Johan Alexander Santana was born on March 13th, 1979, in Tovar, Venezuela. The six-foot left hander was discovered by the Houston Astros, but they left him unprotected & he was drafted away by the Florida Marlins.

In a deal of first & second round picks, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Jared Camp & cash. 

He soon developed his nasty change up which has become the best change in baseball. The pitch was tough for a batter to drive the ball on and to close to the strike zone for him to take. It swirled causing batters to lunge out at it, usually swinging & missing. 

He also threw a fast ball in the lower to mid-nineties with the same delivery which also confuses hitters. Santana started out as a reliever in the Twins bullpen from 2000-2003. 

In 2000 he appeared 30 games going 2-3 with a high 6.49 ERA. In 2001 he was with the Twins from April to early July appearing 15 games going 1-0 with a 4.74 ERA, 28 strike outs in 43 innings.

In those first two seasons he only made nine starts. He was thrown into the starting rotation by manager Ron Gardenhire & it all came together. 

First in 2002 in 14 starts & 27 over all appearances he was 8-6 but now he struck out 137 batters in just 108 innings pitched & posted a 2.99 ERA. 

In 2003 he went 12-3 winning his last eight starts in a row, leading the Twins to a playoff berth. He struck out 169 batters (8th in the league) in 158 innings pitched while posting a 3.07 ERA.

2003 Post Season- ALDS:
In the ALDS he pitched five scoreless innings in the opener but got no decision in the Twins 3-1 victory. He returned but took the loss in the final Game #4. 


In 2004 he had a slow first half of the season, pitching well but ending up at 7-6. He then went on to tied an MLB record going an incredible 13-0 in the second half of the season, leading the Twins to another playoff berth. 

In the second half he averaged eleven strikeouts per nine innings & posted a 1.13 ERA. He pitched eight innings three times allowing less than two earned runs each time. That season he struck out ten or more batters in a game twelve times, posting 12 or more five times with a high of 14 against Baltimore on September 19th. 

Santana won his first Cy Young Award, going 20-6 and leading the AL in both ERA (2.61) & strikeouts (265) pitching in 228 Innings (second in the AL) with one complete game shutout. His 265 strike outs were a club record passing Bert Blyleven's old mark of 258 in 1973. 

2004 Post Season- ALDS: He went on to beat the A.L. New York club in Game #1 of the ALDS pitching seven shutout innings. He began the final Game #4 but go no decision. It was his last post season appearance to date.

In 2005 the Twins weak offense didn’t score many runs, he went 16-7 (5th most wins in the al) and led the league for the third straight year with 238 K’s. He was second in the league with a 2.87 ERA, he pitched 232 innings (2nd in the AL) & tossed three complete games. Santana was always better in the second half, this year was no exception as he went 9-2 after the break pitching at least eight innings six times. 

On August 12th in Oakland, he pitched a three-hit shutout against the A's, striking out none. He came back to strike out ten White Sox in Chicago in his next start. He would get 13 strike outs the next time he faced them at home in September. 

2nd Cy Young Award: In 2006 Santana was spectacular winning his second CY Young Award, becoming the first pitcher since the Mets’ Doc Gooden to win the Pitching Triple Crown. He was tops in wins (19) Ks (245) & ERA (2.77).


After the All-Star break, he once again had an incredible run, going went 10-1 posting an ERA under two. In that stretch he never allowed more than three earned runs in a game & went at least eight innings three times. 

On August 15th he threw a three hit eight inning shutout against the Indians at the Metro Dome. On the season he had nine games where he posted double figures in strike outs, including three in a row in early May. For the third straight year he allowed the fewest walks & hits per innings in the American League. He also led the league in innings (233) starts (34) & strike outs per nine innings for the third straight year (9.4). 

photo by centerfieldmaz

Vs. Mets @Shea Stadium:
2007 Johan pitched against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium in an interleague game that summer. On the team bus on the way to the game, Twins broadcaster the former great pitcher, Bert Blyleven said he would shave his head if Johan pitched a shutout.


From a box seat at Shea, centerfieldmaz & darthmaz watched Santana shut down the Mets in a complete game, four hit9-0 shutout. In the Twins world-Santana did the honors of shaving Blyleven’s head the next day.

That summer Johan made his third All Star team & went on to win his first Gold Glove Award. In a rain shortened game on the last day of the season, he ended a streak of pitching beyond the 5th inning in 123 straight starts. This incredible streak is the third longest in the past 50 years.

He finished the year at 15-13 with a 3.33 ERA, his highest since becoming a starter. He was still considered one of the games top pitchers & The small market Twins knew they wouldn’t be able to pay Johan the big salary. 

Mets Career: In the winter of 2008 he was traded to the New York Mets for prospects, Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber & Kevin Mulvey. That February the Mets gave him a huge six-year $137 million deal to keep him pitching in New York. He was the highest paid pitcher in baseball.

2008: Santana made his Mets debut on Opening Day 2008 in Florida against the Marlins. He allowed two runs on three hits over seven innings earning the 7-2 victory. 
In his second start he allowed just a run in seven innings to the Braves in Atlanta, but John Smoltz & the Braves bullpen held the Mets to a run as well. Santana took a no decision as Aaron Heilman gave up a two run HR to Mark Teixeira in the Mets 3-1 loss.

After a loss to the Brewers where he gave up four runs, he earned wins in Philadelphia & Washington to get to 3-2 to finish April. 

He would win four straight winning decisions. On May 10 although he gave up ten hits, he just surrendered three runs beating the Cincinnati Reds 4-2, for his first win at Shea Stadium.

A week later he went across town & beat the A.L. New York club in his first subway series matchup. He went into the 8th inning that day, allowing four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts in the 7-4 Mets win. 

100th Career Win: On June 1st, he beat the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea, allowing just one in 7.2 innings of work. He struck out six in the win which was his 100th career victory, at the time he was only 29 years old.

On June 6th he gave up two runs (one earned) in six innings at San Diego but took a 2-1 loss to Randy Wolf.  He then threw seven scoreless innings against the Diamondbacks, but the Mets bullpen lost 4-3. Johan then lost three straight decisions, all during inter-league play. In the subway series at Shea, the team only put up two runs for him off Andy Pettitt as took the 3-2 loss.

Up until that point in the season, lack of run support & a horrible 2008 Mets bullpen cost Santana at least five additional victories. 

So, from there he took matters into his own hands. He would not lose another game all season & carried his pitching staff to within one game of a playoff berth. 

He would go 9-0 with three complete games & pitch into the 8th inning or beyond six times in the final three months of the season.

On August 17th he pitched a three-hit shutout in Pittsburgh, striking out seven Pirates in a 4-0 complete game. In his next start he pitched eight shutout innings against the Houston Astros, walking just one batter & leading his team to a 3-0 win at Shea. At this point the Mets had a 2.5 game lead in first place.

After a no decision effort on September 1st, he would pitch seven innings or more in his last five starts, going 4-0 in the September pennant race. 

Mets Collapse: The Mets entered the month in first place & would hold that spot until September 19th. They lost seven of their last ten games, losing a playoff spot on the final day of the season.


September 27th Shut Out: In an incredible performance of determination & team leadership he had one of his best Mets games on the next to last day of the season. Santana threw a three-hit shutout against the Florida Marlins, striking out nine, to keep the Mets in playoff contention going into the last game of the year. 

Unfortunately, the Mets lost to the Marlins 4-2 in on the last day of the season in the final game ever played at Shea Stadium.

In his last two performances he had struck out nine or more batters each time, surpassing 200 strike outs on the year, making it five straight seasons he struck out 200 or more batters.

 He finished the year at 16-7 leading the league in ERA (2.53) innings pitched (234) & games started (34). He was second in the league in strikeouts (206) finishing with 200 or more strike outs five straight seasons. He was also second in the NL in shutouts (3) & third in complete games (3). He came in third place in the CY Young voting behind Tim Lincecum & Brandon Webb. 

Off Season Surgery: As soon as the season ended, on October 1st he underwent a successful knee surgery for a torn meniscus. 

2009:
He returned in 2009 with an Opening Day victory at Cinergy Field in Cincinnati, pitching into the 6th inning allowing just one run on three hits with seven strike outs. 

In his next start he only allowed two runs to the Marlins in Florida, while striking out 13 batters. But the Mets couldn’t score any runs & he took a 2-1 loss to Josh Hohnson. It was Santana's loss first since the June of last year.

On April 18th he made his first start at the new Citi Field. he pitched seven scoreless innings over the Brewers not allowing any Brewer to get past first base. The Mets won it 1-0, the only run scored when Jose Reys lined out to the pitcher & Alex Cora scored on the force out at second.

On April 24th, Santana beat the Washington Nationals striking out ten batters, allowing just two hits in seven innings. On May 6th, he beat Chan Ho Park & the Phillies 1-0 at Citi Field, striking out ten batters. 

On May 11th, he allowed two runs in 6.2 innings at Atlanta but took a loss to Derek Lowe. Johan then won games on the road at Boston & San Francisco. On May 27th he struck out eleven Nationals in his third straight win, giving him his fourth double figure strike out game of the year.  He was 7-2 with an ERA of 1.77ERA at the start of June. 

On July 5th, he took a 2-0 loss to Joe Blanton & the Phillies giving up two solo HRs. He then threw 14 scoreless innings, over two starts to collect wins over the Reds & Braves for his 12th victory. 

2009 All Star: Santana made his first & only All-Star appearance as a Met but did not pitch in the AL's 4-3 win at St. Louis.

On July 24th the Astros scored five runs off him & he gave up his first HR in four games, taking a 5-4 loss.

On July 30th Santana pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits in a 7-0 Mets shut out over the Rockies at Citi Field.

But as the season went on, he began to suffer with arm trouble. Soon everything else went wrong for the 2009 Mets as well. Santana’s year was over in August as he needed to have bone chips removed from his elbow. 

The Mets finished a disappointing fourth under manager Jerry Manuel winning just 70 games (70-92).

Santana finished the 2009 season at 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA, 146 strike outs & 46 walks in 166 innings pitched, in 25 starts. At the plate he batted .167 (7-42) with three doubles & a career high four RBIs.


Sporting News Poll:
Johan was voted number three on a list of the Sporting News top the 50 current players; the votes came from a panel that included many Halls of Famers. 

 
2010: On Opening Day 2010 Johan returned, beating the Marlins at Citi Field, allowing just one run with 5K's in six innings of work. 

In his second start he gave up five runs in D.C. taking a loss to the Nationals. On April 17th he shut out the Cardinals for seven innings but got no decision in the 2-1 Mets win. On April 27th in the first game of a doubleheader, he shut out the Dodgers in six innings in a 4-0 Mets win. He would have a strong April going 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA. 

On May 2nd he had the worst day of his career giving up ten runs & serving up four HRs to the rival Phillies in a nationally broadcast game the Mets lost 11-5. 

In his next start he gave up four runs to the Giants, although the Mets pulled out a 5-4 win with Johan getting no decision. He settled down after that, allowing just three earned runs in his next five starts, although he only collected one victory in that time. That win came in the subway series allowing just a run in 7.2 innings of work.

Shut Out & a HR: On July 6th he had his best day of the year beating the Reds at Citi Field with a three-hit shutout, striking out five & walking three.  He also hit his only career HR that day, coming in the 3rd inning a solo shot off Matt Maloney.

In his first five games of July, he gave up just three earned runs in 26 innings but earned just two more wins, to get to 8-5 with a 2.79 ERA. Then on July 28th he gave up seven runs on 13 hits taking loss to the Cardinals at Citi Field.



In August he started out with a loss in Atlanta, where struck out a season high 11 batters. He then shut out the Phillies for 7.1 innings for a 1-0 win over Cole Hamels. 

Shut Out: On August 12th he threw a four-hit shutout at home against the Colorado Rockies. In that game he struck out ten batters to reach double figures in K's for the second time in three games. It was his second shutout of the year.

Injury: On September 2nd he pitched his last game of the season. Another injury required him to need surgery for the third straight season. 

On September 14th he underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. He would miss the rest of the year & all of the 2011 season at the major league level. 

For the 2010 season he went 11-9 with a 2.98 ERA. He struck out 144 batters walking 55 in 199 innings of work in 29 starts.

2011: A Slow rehab had him get two starts at A ball St. Lucie where he pitched five innings allowing a run on five hits. There was some frustration with the team's lack of success in these years. Johan & David Wright would take much of the blame being the top players of an otherwise unproductive team. 

Also the Wilpon ownership's financial problems fell onto the team as they held back on spending money to improves the team. 

2012: Santana returned to Spring Training 2012 with a lot of attention surrounding him. 

On Opening Day, he returned to pitch his first game in 19 months. He excited Mets fans with a five inning two hit shutout performance against the Atlanta Braves. The Mets went on to a 1-0 win on a David Wright RBI single.

In his next start he went another five runs allowing just one run to the Washington Nat's but he was he was out deluded by Stephen Strasburg 1-0.

On April 17th, his start in Atlanta was not as good, getting hit for four runs never making it out of the first inning. Two no decisions followed where he allowed just one earned run over 12.2 innings of work.

 In the month of May he pitched well enough to keep his ERA at a solid 2.75 but only had a 2-2 record to show for it on a bad offensive Mets team.


First Mets No Hitter: Then on June 1st, Santana made Mets history by throwing the first no hitter in the team's long pitching rich history. With all the great pitchers New York has had along with thirty-seven one hit games (including two the last year by R.A. Dickey) Santana was the first to toss a no hitter.

It happened on June 1st, 2012, in front of 27, 000 fans at Citi Field against the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Santana rolled along, with the help of a spectacular outfield catch by Whitestone Queen's born Mike Baxter, who got injured on the play.

Santana struck out eight & walked five along the way. As the late innings approached every Mets fan was sitting on the edge of their seats hoping to see history & what a thrill it was.

 In the 9th inning Matt Holiday lined out to center field, Allan Craig flew out to left & it all came down to Santana against David Freese. Freese went down swinging and the Mets had their finest moment of the 2012 season.


After the No Hitter: In his next start he gave up four HRs & six runs in the subway series matchup in the Bronx. 

Santana then won two straight games defeating the Rays in Tampa & shutting out a good Baltimore Oriole team for six innings in a 5-0 Mets win at Citi Field to get to 5-3. On June 30th he pitched a three hit eight inning shutout in Los Angeles to beat the Dodgers 5-0. But it was to be the last win of the season & of his career.

He lost five straight games, giving up six runs or more each time, serving up a total of eight HRs & 33 earned runs with 42 hits in 19 innings. 

Injuries: At the end of July, he sprained his ankle & was placed on the 15 day disable list. Santana was then shut down with inflammation in his lower back. With the Mets going nowhere his season ended in mid-August. 

In 2012 Santana was 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA. In 21 starts he struck out 111 batters while walking just 39 in 117 innings of work. By far it was the worst statistical season for him since becoming a starter in his third season.


2013: In 2013 the Mets were optimistic that Santana would be ready for Opening Day. But in Spring Training GM Sandy Alderson said that he would start the season on the disabled list. A few days later an MRI showed he had re-torn the capsule in his shoulder & another surgery was needed. Santana missed the entire season & in November of 2013 was granted free agency.

Mets Career Stats: In 109 games he is 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA. Santana struck out 607 batters (17th most in team history) & walked 203 in 717 innings. He has nine complete games (28th most) with six shut outs & one no hitter.

In 2014 he signed on with the Baltimore Orioles but did not pitch. In 2015 he was given a contract by the Toronto Blue Jays but did not pitch for them.

Career Stats: In his twelve-year career Santana won two Cy Young Awards, three ERA titles & one victory title. He was also named to four All Star squads & won a Gold Glove Award. 

Santana is 139-78 lifetime with .641 career win loss % (37th best all time). & a 3.20 ERA. He struck out 1988 batters (86th all time) with a 8.883 strike out per nine inning ratio (26th best all time). 

He walked 567 in 2025 innings of work, his 2.519 base on balls average per nine innings is 21st best all time. Santana has ten shut outs, with 15 complete games in 360 games. 


Family: Johan & his wife Yasmile, have two daughters. They reside in Miramar Lakes, Florida. 

Charity: He is very active in the community, doing a lot for work for local hospitals & charities through the Johan Santana Foundation.

Honors: In 2014 the Twins retired his uniform number in a ceremony at Target Field. 

In 2022 the Mets honored him on the tenth Anniversary of his no hitter. Former catcher Josh Thole & manager Terry Collins were also on hand for the celebration.

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