Sometimes they say you have to take one for the team. Johan Santana did that for the Mets eight years ago today, throwing the first no-hitter in the franchise's history, but also effectively ending his career somewhat prematurely.
The year was 2012 and the Mets still didn't have a no-hitter to their name. Santana was taking the mound against the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. The biggest call of the game came when Carlos Beltran hit a liner up the third-base line in the sixth inning that was ruled foul. Replays showed it clipped the line and should have been fair. Mike Baxter also made a great catch in the outfield in the seventh inning to preserve the no-no, slamming into the wall so hard that had to be removed from the game.
Beyond those two moments, Santana was sublime, striking out eight batters and walking five in an 8-0 win. The celebration afterward was for the two-time Cy Young award winner, but it was also for the Mets. They had traded away many pitchers who went on to throw no-hitters, but they never had one until that moment. It was something to celebrate.
The aftermath, however, was not celebratory. Santana threw 134 pitches in that game and lowered his season ERA to 2.38. He only pitched 10 more games the rest of the season. His final ERA for 2012 was 4.85.
Santana ruptured his anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder for the second time in 2013 and missed the season after getting surgery to repair it. He was released by the Mets at the end of 2013. He pitched in the minors for the Orioles and Blue Jays, but never made it back to the majors. In his final two starts in the MLB, he gave up 14 runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Perhaps he would have needed surgery on that shoulder regardless. Perhaps his career was always destined to end when he was 33 years-old. But that game, while a highlight in Santana's career and certainly a moment that will never be forgotten by the Mets, cost a lot. Sometimes, taking one for the team does.