Going Blank Again: Santana, Mets Craft Another Shutout

Johan Santana looked much sharper to start this game than he had in any of his previous post no-no starts; not dominant by any stretch, but not exhibiting the shakiness we'd seen since history was made, either. After a 1-2-3 first inning, he allowed a leadoff double to Matt Wieters in the second but retired the next three hitters easily. In the third, a two-out walk of Brian Roberts was thwarted when Santana picked him off. He danced with danger again in the fourth by giving up a leadoff single to J.J. Hardy and a one-out double to Wieters, but strikeouts of Mark Reynolds (swinging) and Steve Pearce (looking) pinned the runners to their spots.

His opposite number, Tommy Hunter, was even better, setting down the first eight Mets he faced and barely breaking a sweat to do it as he made the batters hit one lazy groundout after another. Santana was the first man to reach against him, bouncing a two-out single up the middle in the third, but the patented 2012 Mets Two-Out Rally did not materialize just yet.

The Mets drew first blood, if you can call it that, in the bottom of the fourth when David Wright hit a one-out single, followed by another single from Lucas Duda and a walk to Ike Davis to load the bases. Daniel Murphy smoked a ball down the first base line that Reynolds made a terrific play on to turn it into an out. Wright trotted home with the game's first run on the play, but that's all the Mets could manage in the frame.

Given a slim lead, Santana retired Baltimore in order in the fifth and set down the first two men in the sixth. But the next batter, Adam Jones, hit a single that just eluded Kirk Nieuwenhuis' glove in center. Santana then walked Wieters, who was already 2 for 2 against him, and fell behind the dangerous Reynolds. With his pitch count approaching 100 and Bobby Parnell warming up in the bullpen, Santana knuckled down one more time and induced a harmless popup from Reynolds to end the threat, and his outing.

After a quiet bottom of the fifth, the Mets finally got some elevation on Mr. Hunter's heavy offerings in the sixth. Jordany Valdespin smacked a leadoff single to right field, and one out later, Lucas Duda belted a two-run New Citi Jack to the Mo Zone's net roof. For a while, we all stopped keeping track of which homers wouldn't have been out in the stadium's old dimensions, but apparently this bit of trivia is back on the table, or so it seems based on my nightly Twitter feed. So, there we are.

After Parnell pitched an impressive and efficient top of the seventh, his teammates tacked on in the bottom half. Omar Quintanilla and Josh Thole started things off with back-to-back singles, driving Hunter from the game. A long flyout from pinch hitter Scott Hairston moved Quintanilla to third, and he was subsequently nailed in a rundown on a grounder from another pinch hitter, Andres Torres. However, the lengthy rundown allowed the trailing runners to move to second and third, which further allowed them to score when Valdespin laced a single up the middle, expanding the Mets' lead to 5-0.

T'was all over but the shouting after that. Miguel Batista was called on to toss the top of the eighth, and he somehow managed to keep the O's of the board, despite allowing a single and a wild pitch that put a runner in scoring position with nobody out. Jon Rauch set the the side in order in the ninth to cap a tidy win.

Tomorrow night, the Mets go for the sweep with Dillon Gee on the hill, one series after getting swept by the Reds, which happened one series after the Mets swept the Rays in Tampa, which happened one series after they were swept in the Bronx. Here's hoping the pattern continues for one night only, then the Mets start another pattern where they just keep on winning and we all get ponies.

SB Nation Coverage

* Traditional Recap
* Boxscore
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Camden Chat Gamethread

Win Probability Added

Chart_001_medium

Big winners: Johan Santana, +35.6%, Lucas Duda, +18.2%
Big losers: Omar Quintanilla, =7.1%, Josh Thole, -2.7%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda two-run homer, bottom of the sixth, +16.2%
Teh sux0rest play: Matt Wieters double, top of the fourth, -10.5%
Total pitcher WPA: +41.7%
Total batter WPA: +8.3%
GWRBI!:Daniel Murphy RBI groundout, fourth inning

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