Johan Santana has allowed four runs in his last 36.2 innings pitched, none in his last 15 innings, and has exactly one win to show for those five starts. In that one win, Santana left the game with the Mets leading 6-1 and then watched in increasing horror as they allowed the Yankees to creep within 6-4 before Francisco Rodriguez finally slammed, er, slowly and creakily closed the door.
He couldn't do that on Wednesday. Rodriguez took over a 1-0 game to close out the eighth and then allowed a single to Tony Gwynn Jr. to start the ninth. He refused to hold Gwynn on first base, so Gwynn stole second and scored easily when David Eckstein dribbled a single up the middle with two outs and two strikes later in the inning. A nifty relay from Jason Bay to David Wright to Henry Blanco erased Eckstein at the plate on a subsequent double but you knew that the loss was just a matter of time.
It came with a 5-1 final thanks to Adrian Gonzalez's 11th inning grand slam, but the real indignity was what happened to Santana again. There are some players who are so great that you can barely see them working when they are on the field, but that wasn't Santana on Wednesday. He seemed to be in trouble every time you looked up, yet he found a way to keep the Padres off the scoreboard and you saw how much effort it took on every single pitch. It was inspirational stuff, so long as you weren't one of his teammates.
The Mets hitters couldn't be bothered and the Mets bullpen wasn't interested in being sharp which left Santana with nothing to show for all that sweat. This team simply isn't good enough to waste starts like this once every five days -- is any team? -- and you're left wondering what Santana should do about it.
He's too proud a warrior to simply stop giving full effort on the field so, forthwith, a few suggestions of how to handle things in the clubhouse.
- Santana could offer to buy sandwiches for the entire team from Delfonte's in Red Hook and then force the entire team to watch as he throws the heros in the garbage one by one before eating a meatball masterpiece he saved for himself.
- Santana could hire a bus to take the whole team for a screening of "The Crying Game" and then get on the PA to announce that the chick is a dude just as they arrive at the theatre.
- Just line everyone up and kick each and every player in the groin while telling them "see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps."
It won't win him any friends, but it's pretty clear that the rest of the Mets hate him anyway. Might as well find some joy in that because baseball isn't bringing any these days.