Johan Santana’s struggles continued tonight against the Dodgers, as he was chased after being knocked around for six runs over just three innings. It matched the second-shortest start of his career.
Santana gave up seven hits in all, including a two-run homer to Matt Kemp in the first inning and a two-run homer to Luis Cruz in the third. He walked three and struck out three and threw 45 out of 72 pitches for strikes.
Santana has now allowed 19 runs over his past three starts and six runs or more in each of them. The southpaw is just the third Mets’ pitcher to give up six runs or more in three straight starts, joining Pedro Astacio and Bobby Jones. He’s the fourth pitcher in the majors to do it this season, along with Joe Blanton, Bruce Chen and Mike Minor.
Santana, who missed all of last season while rehabbing his surgically-repaired left shoulder, now has a 3.98 ERA in 110 1/3 innings through 19 starts this season. This includes an ugly 6.54 ERA in eight starts since he threw a career-high 134 pitches in his no-hitter against the Cardinals back on June 1. Perhaps he was due to hit a wall at some point anyway, but given how much he has struggled recently, it’s hard not to look back to his workload from that historic evening in Queens.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: