The Mets offense continues to suck more than an Oliver Perez fastball, but Johan Santana showed tonight why he is the Mets stopper, ace, number 1, whatever the hell you want to call him. He was on his game tonight and propelled the Mets to a shutout victory, evening their record at 55-55. They remain 8 games behind the Braves, and moved to 8 games within the Giants for the Wild Card.

AP

Initial Reaction: What a game. Johan Santana was on top of his game, pitching 5.2 hitless baseball before a strike out/wild pitch allowed Raul Ibanez to reach safely at 1st. Of course Polanco put an end to the thoughts of the Mets first no-hitter in the next at bat.

 The offense continues to be horrendous as they were only able to score 1 run off of 7 hits. If not for Johan Santana, they’d have been absolutely impossible to watch tonight. Thankfully he was on the bump tonight, and looked very good. The 8th inning is where it got interesting. Frankie Rodriguez entered for a 5 out save with runners on 1st and 2nd. He retired the first batter, but walked the next setting up the bases loaded for Ross Gload. Gload drew the count full after K-Rod missed on a 2-2 curveball. As good pitchers do, he came back with the same pitch, retiring Gload on a groundout to Ruben Tejada with the same curveball. Thankfully Ike Davis had entered the game as a pinch hitter the previous inning, because he was required to make a nice stab at a poor throw. I’m not sure Mike Hessman makes that play. Frankie was exuberant after the inning, but was able to keep his emotions together and pitch a 1-2-3 9th inning to save the win for Santana and the Mets.

The Positives:

Don’t Mess With The Johan: Santana was a boss tonight. He made up for his last start in Philly (the worst of his career). His official line on the night was 7.1 with 5 hits, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts. The 5 hits he allowed all came in his final 1.2 innings pitched. Santana’s fastball was in the low 90s tonight, and his changeup in the low 80s. It’s key for him to keep that differential because he only throws the two pitches. Santana moved to 9-6 on the year and lowered his ERA to 3.06.

Alex Cora: While Alex was a great locker room player, he wasn’t having much success lately. His release no doubt has to due with him approaching the 81 games played mark, where his player option would have kicked in for next year. Peace playa. Next up: Luis Castillo & Oliver Perez.

The Negatives:

RISP: The Mets continue to be etrocious with the bats this 2nd half. They were 0-9 tonight with runners in scoring position.

Interesting Facts:

F-Mart: Fernando Martinez made his return to the big club tonight. After an injury plagued season last year, mayeb the Mets top prospect will show something this time around.

Francouer: I just find it interesting every time Frenchy hits a home run, mostly because he’s not that good, yet still swings for the fences every at bat. He got lucky tonight, but he’s due to lose lots of time with F-Mart here.

What’s Next?

The Mets look to win the rubber game in the series at Philadelphia. Tomorrow’s afternoon game starts at 1:35 and can be seen on PIX.

NYM R.A. Dickey (7-4) 2.36 ERA vs.  PHL Roy Halladay (13-8) 2.17 ERA