It’s safe to say that Johan Santana is back.
In an effort which was both dominant and efficient, Santana tossed a four hit-shutout this afternoon at Citi Field as part of a 9-0 victory over the light-hitting Padres. All four hits he gave up were singles and he threw 74 out of 96 pitches for strikes. He struck out seven and didn’t issue a walk.
Santana has been the victim of low run support this season, but that wasn’t an issue for him today. The Mets scored four runs off Clayton Richard in the first inning on homers from Scott Hairston and Vinny Rottino and tacked on five more in the ninth inning against former Met Dale Thayer, including a grand slam by Mike Nickeas.
This was the ninth shutout of Santana’s career and his first since August 10, 2010 against the Rockies. Sure, the Padres are one of the worst offensive teams in the sport, but today’s outing was an important benchmark for someone who missed all of last season while rehabbing from shoulder surgery. The 33-year-old southpaw hadn’t lasted longer than seven innings in any of his previous nine starts this year.
While Santana’s velocity isn’t what it was prior to surgery, he has an outstanding 2.75 ERA and 60/16 K/BB ratio over 59 innings this season. That’ll work.
The Mets had to scratch both Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores an hour before Wednesday’s game against the Yankees due to ribcage injuries, so Travis d'Arnaud borrowed David Wright‘s glove and played third base for the first time in his career. He had played some third base in spring training, but as far as an official professional game goes, he’s never been there.
The first two batters the Yankees sent up to the plate in the first inning were left-handed. But when the right-handed Aaron Judge came up, manager Terry Collins swapped second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera with d’Arnaud. It became a thing. The two swapped once more in the first inning, three times in the second, once in the third, five times in the fourth, once in the fifth, three times in the sixth, four times in the seventh, once in the eighth, and twice in the ninth. It worked, as d’Arnaud didn’t have an opportunity to make a play until catching Todd Frazier‘s pop-up for the first out of the ninth inning — as a second baseman. Cabrera had a handful of opportunities, including immediately after having swapped with d’Arnaud.
The Mets lost 5-3. At the plate, d’Arnaud went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly. Cabrera was 1-for-4.
Matt Reynolds and Gavin Cecchini are being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas so the Mets don’t have to do the “3B-2B shenanigans,” as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo put it, again.
Cubs starter John Lackey stole the first base of his 15-year career on Wednesday against the Reds. Of course, he spent the first 11 and a half years of his career in the American League, where opportunities to bat, let alone attempt to steal a base, were rare. Lackey entered Wednesday having taken 250 plate appearances, reaching base just 31 times on 17 singles, seven doubles, and seven walks for a .134 on-base percentage. One can imagine the 38-year-old is not exactly the swiftest base runner.
Still, Lackey managed to swipe a bag in the fourth inning. He singled with two outs against Homer Bailey. Then, with an 0-1 count on Ben Zobrist, Lackey broke for second even before Bailey began his windup. Tucker Barnhart stood up to alert Bailey that Lackey was running, so Bailey wheeled around and threw to second base, but Lackey slid into the bag easily safe. It wasn’t a pretty slide, but it did the job.
Lackey, however, was picked off of second base by Barnhart later that inning. Bailey threw a 3-2 fastball wide of the strike zone, walking Zobrist. Lackey had wandered too far off of second base, so Barnhart threw behind Lackey and the tag was applied by Zack Cozart. Lackey was called safe initially. The play was reviewed and the ruling on the field was overturned, ending the fourth inning.
Base Ba’al giveth and Base Ba’al taketh away.