Santana's Gem Keeps Mets' Playoff Hopes Alive

Patrick MurraySenior Analyst ISeptember 27, 2008

Taking the mound on short rest Saturday afternoon, Johan Santana turned in the signature performance of his tenure with the Mets.

Manager Jerry Manuel turned to his ace in a must win game and Santana responded with a complete game shutout. He allowed just three hits and struck out nine Marlins to earn the 2-0 win. Today was Johan's third complete game of the season and second shutout.

After throwing a career high 125 pitches on Tuesday, Santana threw 117 today, with 73 of them being strikes.

Hoping to spark his team, Manuel switched up the lineup a bit. Carlos Beltran batted second, Carlos Delgado batted third, David Wright moved from his usual three-spot to cleanup, and Daniel Murphy dropped from the number two spot to fifth in the order.

The changes didn't help as the Mets offense was able to score just two runs. Carlos Delgado drove in Jose Reyes with a sacrifice fly in the first inning for the first run.

Ramon Martinez started at second base for the third straight game, and drove in Daniel Murphy with a double in the fifth. Martinez is 3 for 10 with two doubles in his three starts. Expect to see him start again tomorrow with a lefthander on the mound for Florida.

The Mets will sit back tonight and hope for some help from the Cubs and Nationals. A win by Chicago over Milwaukee would put the Mets in a tie for the Wild Card lead going into the final game of the season.

The Mets need the Nationals to defeat Philadelphia today to keep their hopes for the NL East title alive.

Tomorrow afternoon, in the final regular season game at Shea Stadium, the Mets will send Oliver Perez (10-7, 4.25) to the mound on three days rest. Perez has performed very well in big games for New York. Perez is 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in five starts against the Marlins this season.

Opposing Perez will be Florida's young southpaw Scott Olsen (8-11, 4.23). Olsen has been roughed up by the Mets this season. He is 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in 4 starts against New York in 2008.

Earlier this week when asked about defeating the Mets at the end of last season and pitching in the final regular season game at Shea, Olsen said, "Silence is golden. It's not that good of a stadium. I remember Tom Glavine walking off the mound with his head down without getting three outs. It was just fun hearing 55,000 people not say a word."

If the Mets need any extra motivation to win (which they shouldn't), there it is right there.