NY Sports Dog: Good Morning Mets Fans! Johan Santana!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good Morning Mets Fans! Johan Santana!

What is an Ace?

In the military, an Ace is a pilot with 5 confirmed kills. In baseball, it's a dominant #1 starting pitcher--someone capable of shutting down an opponent, no matter how hot they are, and leading his team to victory.

I believe it's an overused term in today's game, and that there are only about a dozen in all of MLB.

Johan Santana is one of them. Johan Santana is an ace.

Though only 20th in MLB in Wins, thanks in part to a leaky bullpen in several of his starts, he is 4th in ERA, 3rd in Innings Pitched, 10th in WHIP, and 11th in Ks.

He is a gamer, a battler, a proud and dedicated craftsman, and yes my friends, he really is a New York Met.

After shutting out the Pirates in a complete game masterpiece in his last outing, Santana hurled another gem last night against a game and gritty Houston Astro club and their own star pitcher Roy Oswalt.

After 6 innings of shutout ball Johan had thrown over 100 pitches and immediately went to Jerry Manuel in the Mets dugout to make his case for a 7th inning.

"Johan had mentioned that the other guy was still out there," Manuel said with a laugh. "I thought that, for what he's done on the mound, I had to give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought that was only fair to him."

“I told Jerry I felt good,” Santana said. “I was there. I was throwing strikes.”

Santana got his way and put up another zero in the 7th. All told he tossed a career high 121 pitches and further endeared himself to the Shea faithful, who rewarded the star with a well-deserved ovation as he walked back to the dugout, spent, but happy.

"Right now, we've got a great momentum going and everything is right there in front of us, so I know I need to do my part to help out," Santana said. "At this point in the season, you want to show you're able to go deep in the game. We need that now even more because we don't have Billy, so what happened tonight was very satisfying."

Santana was helped along by Jose Reyes, who led the game off with a single and scored on a David Wright bloop single, and Brian Schneider, who cracked his 3rd homerun in 5 games. His dinger plated Ryan Church, who got on base with a hustle single dribbled down the third base line.

It sure was good to see Ryan Church back--the fans rose to their collective feet when he came to bat for the first time--it was more evidence that this team, this group of hustling, gritty professionals, have endeared themselves to the fanatics that pack the house day after day. Any lingering affects of last year's collapse have been fully exorcised.

The bullpen threw another strong outing--Aaron Heilman and Luis Ayala combined for two scoreless, hitless, walkless innings that featured 3 strikeouts.

Both pitchers looked dominant, and Ayala was simply awesome.

Brian Schneider, who knows Ayala very well from their time together with the Nats, agrees. “Coming here has given him a little hope,” Schneider said. “Sometimes change is good.”

In other news Luis Castillo joins the club for today's game and has been given back his starting second base job.

It will be very interesting to see if the change in chemistry impacts the club. Bottom line is that even though Castillo's replacements performed admirably, Luis is a high OBP guy with speed, and if he's physically fit, he can be a more consistent offensive player than Argenis Reyes and allow Damion Easley to be part of an increasingly strong bench.

John Maine on the hill tonight--watch him closely and see if gets the zip back on his fastball.

Enjoy your coffee!

Houston (64-64)000000000080
N.Y. Mets (72-57) «12000000x340

New York Mets
Jose Reyes, SS4110000 .300
Argenis Reyes, 2B2000000 .264
David Wright, 3B3011000 .295
Carlos Delgado, 1B3000011 .260
Carlos Beltran, CF3000011 .270
Daniel Murphy, LF3000010 .380
Aaron Heilman, P0000000 .000
Luis Ayala, P0000000 .000
Ryan Church, RF3110000 .308
Brian Schneider, C3112010 .257
Johan Santana, P2000020 .136
Endy Chavez, LF1000000 .272

HR - Brian Schneider (5, Oswalt)
SH - Argenis Reyes (4)
RBI - David Wright (99), Brian Schneider 2 (27)
Team LOB - 1
New York Mets
Johan Santana (W,12-7) 7800150 2.64
Aaron Heilman (H,14) 1000010 5.40
Luis Ayala (S,1) 1000020 5.49
Pitches-Strikes - Johan Santana 121-86, Aaron Heilman 17-9, Luis Ayala 11-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johan Santana 6-10, Aaron Heilman 2-0, Luis Ayala 1-0
Batters Faced - Johan Santana 30, Aaron Heilman 3, Luis Ayala 3

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