In a return to the scene of his worst career moment — Santana was pitching here on Sept. 2, 2010 when he tore the anterior capsule in his left shoulder — the Mets ace last night was tomahawk-chopped to a pulp.
“I felt fine [physically],” Santana said after his shortest career start of 1 1/3 innings helped sink the Mets in a 9-3 loss to the Braves at Turner Field. “It was a rough one. They made me throw a lot of pitches and even though I felt good, that’s one of those days things didn’t work out the way I wanted.
THIS STINKS! Johan Santana, who allowed four hits and six runs (four earned) over 1¹/3 innings, walks back to the mound in the second inning of the Mets’ 9-3 loss to the Braves last night.
“I didn’t even sweat. It’s just one of those things that is going to happen sometimes. It’s part of the game. I can’t wait to go back again and do my job.”
Santana’s final line included six runs allowed, four earned, on four hits and one walk. He left after 55 pitches, following Jason Heyward’s RBI single in the second that gave the Braves a 6-0 lead.
Santana (0-2) had allowed only one earned run in his previous 10 innings, spanning two starts. He survived a first inning in which the Braves scored an unearned run after Jason Bay turned Michael Bourn’s drive to left field into a two-base error, but then folded in the second.
Freddie Freeman doubled in a run and Tyler Pastronicky stroked a two-run double that made it 4-0 before Ike Davis, in an attempt to nail the lead runner at third, threw away Randall Delgado’s sacrifice bunt for another run. Heyward’s RBI single ended Santana’s night.
“It’s tough when you prepare like we did, and you’ve got to wait five days,” catcher Josh Thole said. “It’s a bit disheartening to see that, and especially that guy.”
Santana’s previous shortest career outing was three innings, on three different occasions — last occurring on June 14, 2009 against the Yankees in The Bronx.
Santana admitted he had bad flashbacks leading into last night’s start, considering he was back where he sustained the career-threatening shoulder injury that caused him to miss last season.
“When I went to the bullpen I pictured the whole thing,” Santana said. “Even when I walked to the mound in the first inning, I pictured — I looked at the rubber and was like, ‘OK.’ But I put it away. I just got another short outing here ... again.”
Mets starting pitchers entered with a 2.26 ERA, which ranked second in the major leagues behind the Nationals, and Santana was a big part of that equation with two strong starts before last night, including the no-decision he took against the Braves on Opening Day at Citi Field after pitching five shutout innings.
The schedule early has allowed manager Terry Collins to give Santana an extra day off between starts, but that will soon change. Santana will again pitch on five days’ rest when the Mets face the Giants on Monday, but then would make his first start on four days’ rest, a week from Saturday at Colorado.
In spring training Collins had mentioned the possibility of inserting another arm into the rotation if the Mets wanted to continue giving Santana extra rest, but yesterday the manager said he probably won’t go that route.
Collins said he isn’t concerned on Santana based on last night.
“Nobody goes through the whole year without having a rough outing some time,” Collins said. “He will bounce back from it.”
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