Braves Win 7-5; Ervin Santana Continues to Mystify Mets

Howard Goldin

Flushing, NY---The two starting pitchers, Bartolo Colon and Ervin Santana, possess a number of similarities. Both are major league veterans, Colon since 1997 and Santana since 2005. Both are natives of the Dominican Republic. Both have had their ups and downs during their lengthy careers in the majors. Each has pitched superlatively and been chosen to be on an All-Star team and each has suffered through difficult seasons with a losing record and a high ERA. 

One current difference between the two is the level of success each has achieved this season. Santana is 2-0, both wins over the Mets, with an ERA of 0.86 while Colon is only 1-3 with a less than mediocre ERA of 5.40.

One can look no further than the 2014 pitching staff of the Atlanta Braves to find s more apt current similarity,that of Friday night’s starter, Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana, Saturday’s starting pitcher.

Each is more than 30 years of age, each appeared to be at the end of a lengthy career before the current season began, each did not sign a one year contract with the Braves until March of 2014, neither was expected to have the level of success each has thus far achieved, Harang pitched seven innings of no-hit ball on Friday before being removed from the game and Santana pitched a no-hitter in the summer of 2011 while a member of the Angels.

Neither of these two veteran hurlers had much difficulty with the Mets during the current weekend series. Santana’s victory was no surprise. The win on Saturday raised the righty’s mark against New York to 3-0 and his ERA is a minuscule 0.86. Two of the victories were pitched this month.

On April 9, Santana blanked the Mets through eight innings, giving up only three hits, not walking a single batter and fanning six.

On Saturday, In the first inning, Santana walked Eric Young Jr., the first batter he faced. Two batters later, a single by David Wright drove Young across the plate with the first run of the game. The base hit extended Wright’s hitting streak to 10 games. Although Mets’ runners reached base in all but one of the following six innings that Santana was on the mound, the experienced pitcher closed the door to any further scoring.

Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez credited his starter for that accomplishment, “[The way he] got himself out of that last jam in the seventh was terrific. He made some great pitches in that last inning.” Santana recognized how he was handling the rallies of the Mets, “I made my pitches and got out of jams.”

Gonzalez used a number of expressions to describe how well he thought Santana pitched, “He was terrific. He’s competing. He uses the aggressiveness of the hitters. He doesn’t give in. He had great command.”

Santana earned the win because the Braves were leading 3-1 when he departed after the seventh. In what seemed like a never ending final two innings, each club scored four runs to raise the final score to 7-5.

Gonzalez is sending David Hale to the mound to start the final game of the series on Sunday afternoon in the hope of achieving a sweep. Terry Collins of the Mets has chosen Zack Wheeler to prevent the sweep.

howardg53@yahoo.com