When the Mets acquired Johan Santana from the Twins in February of 2008 and signed him to a six-year, $137.5 million contract, he was supposed to be the piece that would bring the team back to the postseason.
Things haven’t exactly worked out that way, as the Mets narrowly missed the playoffs in 2008 and have endured three straight losing seasons since. Santana underwent shoulder surgery in August of 2010 and didn’t throw a pitch in the majors last year. There were many who doubted whether he would ever throw a pitch in the majors again, let alone resemble the ace we saw in the past. Perhaps we shouldn’t underestimate him any longer.
After going the distance in a 9-0 win over the Padres last Saturday, Santana went a step further this evening by tossing the first no-hitter in Mets’ history as part of an 8-0 win over the Cardinals. Finally. After 50 years and 8,020 games, the Mets have their first no-hitter. And they said it would never happen.
Sure, it wasn’t the prettiest. Santana walked five and needed a career-high 134 pitches to get it done. We’ll hear plenty about third base umpire Adrian Johnson, who missed a would-be double by Carlos Beltran down the third base line in the top of the sixth inning. With expanded replay, the Mets might not have had this moment. Of course, we could probably cherry pick other no-hitters which had similar controversial plays, too. We all know this game isn’t perfect. Not right now. Probably not ever. But that’s a conversation for another time. Sometimes it’s a real drag to dwell on the negative when somebody accomplishes something pretty awesome. And tonight was pretty awesome, whether you are a Mets fan or not.
After missing all of last season rehabbing from shoulder surgery, the resurgent Santana now has a fantastic 2.38 ERA and 68/21 K/BB ratio over 68 innings this year. He still hasn’t led the Mets back to the postseason, but tonight he provided the first real “moment” since Citi Field opened its doors in 2009. And it didn’t hurt that he did it against the Cardinals, who defeated the Mets in seven games in the 2006 NLCS.
UPDATE, 12:07 p.m. EDT: The Royals have confirmed reports of Yordano Ventura’s death with an official statement. No further details pertaining to the accident have been divulged.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.