Johan Santana, in his first season back from shoulder surgery, broke an 8,011-game drought by pitching the first no-hitter in the New York Mets’ 51-season franchise history.
Santana, 33, threw the third no-hitter of the season in the Mets’ 8-0 shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals. Los Angeles Angels hurler Jered Weaver had one on May 2, and Chicago White Sox right-hander Philip Humber pitched a perfect game April 22.
“I hoped everything would work out quick,” Santana said in a televised interview at Citi Field in New York. “I was able to locate and command and get some quick outs and get out of there.”
Santana, who missed all of last season while recovering from the surgery, threw a career-high 134 pitches last night, striking out eight and walking five.
Santana accomplished a feat with the Mets that eluded seven pitchers who went on to record no-hitters after they left the National League team.
Texas Rangers President and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan holds the major league record with seven no-hitters, none during his tenure with the Mets in 1966-1971. Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Mike Scott, David Cone, Hideo Nomo and Humber also pitched no-hitters after leaving the team.
“The no-hitter thrown tonight by Johan truly demonstrates New York-style resilience and dedication, as after overcoming injuries and setbacks, Santana has put his name among the giants in baseball history,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
Two key plays saved Santana’s bid for the no-hitter. Carlos Beltran’s line drive over third base in the sixth inning was called foul by the third-base umpire.
“It was tough because it happened so quick I wasn’t able to see anything,” Santana said. “The umpire made his call and that was the end of it.”
In the next inning, Mike Baxter caught Yadier Molina’s line drive to the warning track in left field and then crashed into the wall, forcing him to leave the game with a bruised shoulder.
“When I saw him running back onto the warning track and he made that play, it was amazing -- an outstanding play and he saved the game,” Santana said. “All these guys, I want to thank them for what we accomplished.”
David Freese struck out swinging to give Santana his no-hitter in his 11th start of the season.
“It was a crazy night trying to control my fastball,” said Santana, who pitched his second consecutive shutout after a 9-0 victory on May 26 against the San Diego Padres -- who now stand alone as the only Major League Baseball team without a no-hitter.
Lucas Duda drove in four runs for the Mets (29-23) with a three-run homer and a sacrifice fly. Daniel Murphy drove in three runs for New York.
Adam Wainwright (4-6) took the loss after allowing seven runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings for the Cardinals (27-25).
Santana, the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2004 and 2006 for the Minnesota Twins, was traded to the Mets in 2008 for four players including Humber. He was treated for bone chips in his left elbow in 2009, and a rotator cuff injury kept him off the mound for the 2011 season.
Santana pitched the season opener this year for the Mets, his first appearance in a major league game since Sept. 2, 2010. Manager Terry Collins had planned to limit Santana to 110 to 115 pitches a game as he recovered this season from his surgery.
“I just couldn’t take him out,” Collins said.
The win came the day after a $162 million settlement between the owners of the Mets and the liquidator of Bernard Madoff’s firm won court approval.
Under the settlement, with Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz and dozens of related parties, the Mets owners owe the Madoff estate $162 million in phony profits from the fraud. The Wilpon and Katz payments may be offset by their claims to have suffered $178 million in losses.
As part of the agreement, the liquidator, Irving Picard, dropped his claim that the Mets owners blinded themselves to Madoff’s Ponzi scheme because it benefited their businesses. Picard also gave up his demand that the Wilpon group return principal they invested with Madoff and then withdrew.
The settlement resolves a case in which Picard had sought $1 billion from the Mets owners for the benefit of former Madoff customers.