It's no wonder Johan Santana waved at the Citi Field crowd Friday night by raising his right arm.
After missing all of last season recovering from shoulder surgery, Santana threw a career-high 134 pitches to accomplish a feat Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Hideo Nomo, Mike Scott, Philip Humber and countless others had never done.
Santana ended a streak of 8,019 games over 51 years of Mets' history without a no-hitter.
The Mets, with 31 one-hitters to their name, left the San Diego Padres as the only franchise in baseball never to have a pitcher throw a no-no. Santana, who had never thrown one at any level, told reporters: "I don't think I've ever even thrown a no-hitter in video games."
And that's why Terry Collins, the Mets manager, had to leave him in, even if he had set out to limit Santana's surgically repaired left shoulder to 110-115 pitches in the game, even if he had already thrown 122 pitches through eight innings, and even if he pays for it with arm problems down the line this season.
"I just couldn't take him out," said Collins, who left it up to Santana, a man Collins called "his hero" in the seventh inning.
"I'm very excited for him, but in five days, if his arm is bothering him, I'm not going to feel very good," Collins said.
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