Johan Santana is just that good. Not only can he defeat the opposition, he can overcome his own team doing its best to hand the game over.
The Mets made three more errors behind Santana tonight, but, no matter, the ace pitched seven strong innings and led the Mets to a 5-3 victory in Fenway Park.
The Mets got most of their runs early off Daisuke Matsuzaka who made his first start since April 14. Matsuzaka went five innings, throwing just 80 pitches and gave up New York’s first four runs.
Gary Sheffield led off the top of a second inning with a long home run over the Green Monster. It was the first home run the Mets had hit since Sheffield went yard on May 13 at Citi Field against the Atlanta Braves.
Red Sox captain Jason Varitek answered with a home run of his own over the 37-foot wall in left in the bottom of the inning. It was just the fourth home run Santana has served up this year.
In the top of the fourth, the Mets tacked on three more runs. Carlos Beltran reached on a ground-rule double and Sheffield drew a free pass to set the table for David Wright. Wright plated Beltran on a single to center and Omir Santos and Ramon Martinez followed suit, contributing RBI-singles of their own.
In the bottom of the fourth, the defense continued their precedent of betraying Santana. This time, Ramon Martinez was the guilty party. His error allowed J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell to score and cut the lead to 4-3.
From there on out, Santana shut down the Red Sox. His final line: Seven innings, seven hits, two earned runs, one walk, eight strikeouts.
Angel Pagan continued his good start to his major league season by adding an insurance run in the seventh. Pagan is now hitting a cool .400 for the season.
Bobby Parnell breezed through the eighth and Francisco Rodriguez slammed the door shut to notch his 12th save of the year.
This was a critical game for the Mets because they needed to stop their skid and they did thanks to their ace pitching like the ace that he is. Taking two out of three or sweeping a traditional AL East powerhouse would give the Mets a truckload of confidence heading home to face the Washington Nationals.
Game Two of the series is tomorrow at 7:10 p.m. Mike Pelfrey will take the mound for the Mets and the Red Sox will counter with Josh Beckett.
Mark Krulish is a contributor to HowBoutThemMets.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org