By Rich Coutinho
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It was one of those nights that every pitcher experiences in a long season and for Johan Santana, it just happened to occur on the stage of the opening night of the Subway Series. Coming off the no-hitter, Mets manager Terry Collins gave Santana two extra days of rest and blames himself for the effect it had on him.
“Blame me for this loss,” said the Mets manager, “because I felt he needed an extra day of rest and Johan felt it was not fair to move up R.A. Dickey a day in the rotation to accommodate the move, but looking back I should have pitched him on normal rest and I cost the team a game tonight.” My feeling is that Terry Collins is being much too hard on himself because being cautious was the right thing to do. That may not have been illustrated tonight but be rest assured in future games, Santana will benefit long-term from that extra rest.
I watched all of Santana’s pitches closely and this was about location and command, which means his arm might have been too strong. In fact, he hit 90 MPH on the gun in the first inning which is about as fast as he has been all season indicating that his shoulder was not the issue. “My shoulder is fine,” said Santana, “and tonight was just one of those nights. I made two mistakes to Cano and in this ballpark against that team you will pay for those mistakes.”
I cannot believe all the people in the press box tonight who were actually pinning this loss on his 134-pitch effort a week ago. That is pure nonsense on a number of levels. First of all, everybody knew what was at stake — the first no-hitter in the history of the franchise — and secondly, at no point last night did Santana look like he had a tired arm or his velocity was down a notch. This was a command issue that reflected the extra rest Terry Collins gave him this week. For the record, I was totally onboard with that decision because of the long-term benefit.
I know Mets fans were real disappointed last night with a 9-1 loss in the Bronx but quite frankly, the Mets have bigger fish to fry than one game in the middle of the season, even if it is against a cross-town rival that their fan base vehemently dislikes. That is how far this organization has come. They have actual playoff aspirations and that means that they have to look at the big picture.
I expect that you will see the Mets bounce back this weekend because that is what they have done all season. Dillon Gee and Jonathan Niese are more than capable of picking up Johan Santana in the next two days. The Yankees are a quality talent-laden team, but the Mets have beat plenty of those teams this year, making believers out of their fan base. No Mets fan likes losing 9-1 to the Yankees, but it was just one of those nights for the team and for Johan Santana.
Will the Mets win the Subway Series? Sound off in the comments section below…