"Nohan" to start vs. Yankees Friday night
Johan Santana has been the buzz of New York since pitching the first no-hitter in the 51-year history of the Mets. Because he needed 134 pitches to do it, and since Terry Collins is committed to preserving a pitcher who missed all of last year with shoulder surgery, Santana is getting an extra two days' rest, which means he will be opposing Hiroki Kuroda Friday night in the opener of Subway Series 2012 at Yankee Stadium.
It was this past Friday when Santana took over the Big Apple's collective consciousness. Once Curtis Granderson belted a grand slam off Casey Crosby in the second inning Friday night in Detroit, that game took a back seat to the happenings at Citi Field. With virtually every no-hitter, Friday in Flushing had controversy (Adrian Johnson’s blown call at third base which denied Carlos Beltran a sixth-inning single), the theater of the unexpected (Whitestone, N.Y., product Mike Baxter’s running catch and collision with the left field wall that preserved the no-no in the seventh) and compelling drama.
Mets manager Terry Collins insisted that Santana was on pitch-count limit of 110-115 pitches. But when it became apparent that Santana’s bid at history – mind you not just any history, the Mets had gone 8,019 games without a no-hitter – would come at the risk of short-term gain, long-term loss, Collins was in an unenviable bind. As you know, Collins granted Santana (who said there was no chance he was coming out) the chance to finish, and the left-hander did when he struck out David Freese on his 134th and final pitch.
Santana’s health and Sunday throwing session have since been under heavy observation from Collins and pitching coach Dan Warthen. Santana continues to insist he’s OK, but the Mets made their decision after watching Santana throw a bullpen session before Monday's game. R.A. Dickey was an option to start Wednesday on three days' rest, but will go Thursday against the Nationals. Dillon Gee and Jon Niese will go Saturday and Sunday, respectively, against Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte. Niese is getting a full week due to a rapid heartbeat he experienced while striking out a career-high 10 in defeating the Cardinals Sunday night.
The Subway Series is fun enough when the Yankees and Mets share the same field. But considering that the Mets are the season’s surprise team to date and both teams are playing well, expect an electric atmosphere Friday night. But don’t get your hopes up of seeing Santana pulling a Johnny Vander Meer. Collins is resolute on capping the left-hander’s next few starts at around 90 pitches. If he’s working on another no-no, rest assured Collins will tell him, “You had it your way last Friday, now we’re doing it my way.”
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