Do you know how many times Johan Santana has posted a zero for the Mets? There have been 14 times when he has not allowed a run. Not an earned run, but any run.
Four times he has earned a no decision in those 14 splendid games, including a ridiculous three times this season. There have been three further times where he has allowed two or fewer unearned runs in his two-and-a-half years in New York. He is 0-2 with a no decision in those contests.
It’s looking eerily like 2008 all over again. In his first season with the Mets, Santana allowed one run or fewer 11 times. The Mets lost three of those games.
On Wednesday against the Padres, Santana allowed one run or fewer for the eighth time in his 12 starts. He has only won four of those solid outings, and the Mets have gone on to lose three of the others.
Santana’s seven shutout innings against the Cardinals on April 17 were only saved by a 20th-inning rally long, long after he had left the game, but the Mets fell 2-1 against the Marlins four weeks later when the only run he gave up came following a third-inning error.
He was victimized even further against the Brewers last time out on Friday when he threw eight zeros on the board, only to see Igarashi dish up a walk-off home run to Corey Hart, and on Wednesday Jerry Manuel made the mistake of thinking the bullpen could hold down a one-run lead on the road.
Santana is currently riding a 15-inning scoreless streak without a win in either game. I don't work for Elias, but over his last five starts, Santana has a 0.74 ERA and the Mets are 1-4. That is absolutely criminal.
For a team that does not have great depth, heck, any depth, in their starting rotation, they can not afford to keep letting these outing go to waste. If you can’t pick up your ace when he is on the mound, the team has no chance of success over any extended period of time.
Santana wasn’t at his best against the Padres in Petco Park, but he worked out the kinks and pitched a smart ballgame. He worked his way both into and out of jams, but he was smart enough to see what wasn’t working and he adapted accordingly.
As evidenced by the meltdown against the Phillies a month ago today, Johan is not perfect. He will have bad outings and he will get hit hard when he leaves stuff over the plate against a good lineup.
But if he is fighting hard to put the team in a position to win, it is so incredibly frustrating to see the Mets either fail to give him some support or to blow a late lead. No decisions mean precious little if the team still wins, but losing a game that you were one strike away from winning when your stud has blanked a team for seven innings is inexcusable.
Sure, it’s great to win 10-5 or 8-2 games, but until the team can win those tight contests they are going to stay in the middle of the competitive NL East pack. Middle might even be generous in their inability to win outside of Citi Field continues through the summer.