By Jesse Lent
Special to DNAinfo.com New York
When Johan Santana’s final pitch soared past the swinging bat of St. Louis Cardinals player David Freese last night in Citi Field, it was more than just a game-winning strikeout.
Santana had just secured himself a permanent place in New York Mets history.
For the first time in 51 seasons, a Mets pitcher had thrown a no-hitter, in an 8-0 stunner against defending World Series champions the Cardinals.
“After 50 years, I think it’s great,” said 64-year-old Mets fan, Juan Lebron, on Saturday in Brooklyn.
It took 8,020 games, and 36 one-hitters for the Mets to accomplish this feat. However, the issue of pitch count almost derailed the historic moment completely.
Mets Manager Terry Collins reportedly said before the game that he wanted to limit Santana, who missed last season because of shoulder surgery, to a maximum of 110 to 115 pitches. At the game’s end, Santana had thrown a career-high 134.
But the historic game wasn’t devoid of controversy.
The major point of contention, particularly among Cardinals fan, was a sixth-inning Carlos Beltran line drive to third base that hit the foul line.
Although an instant replay revealed a mark where the ball landed in the chalk foul line, third base umpire Adrian Johnson ruled it a foul, to the delight of a home crowd of over 27,000.
Another close call came in the next inning, when native Queens resident and Mets outfielder Mike Baxter made a jaw-droppping left field catch against the wall. The move left Baxter with a bruised left shoulded, but pitching perfection was preserved.
The San Diego Padres now become the only existing major league team to have never achieved a no-hitter.
“I’m so happy with this,” said 60-year-old Mets fan, Alex Valdez. “It’s unbelievable.”
Valdez says the game has given him new hope that the Mets could win the World Series this year.
“Maybe this is the year for New York,” he said.
Santana, who told reporters that he hadn’t even accomplished the historic feat in video games, posted a message about the team's victory on the website Twitter, shortly after the game.
“Tonight we made history Mets,” the message read. “I want to thank all my teammates and all the fans for the support. Believe it. You guys are the best.”