Flushing, Coney Island or Timbuktu. No matter. It's been a while since Johan Santana has been as effective as he was Sunday, and that had to be a welcome sight for the Mets, regardless of the setting.
Santana, unscathed and pain-free, completed his rehab assignment at MCU Park with the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones.
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The lefthander pitched three scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out three. He threw 29 of his 38 pitches for strikes against the Auburn Doubledays, a Nationals affiliate.
"I felt pretty good," said Santana, 33, who was put on the disabled list July 21 with a sprained right ankle. "I was able to finally get on a mound and face some hitters."
Santana, who left the game with a 6-0 lead, did extra throwing in the bullpen and said he got his total count "up to about 90 pitches." He was sent to Brooklyn after a successful bullpen session last Thursday.
Santana said he'll meet with team officials Tuesday to discuss the next step. It was believed that, barring setbacks, he could rejoin the Mets on Saturday.
"My whole right side feels good," he said. "Even though my ankle was what was bothering me, I was able to rest my whole body. That's something I really needed."
Despite the time off, Santana had good control of his fastball, changeup and slider Sunday, but he did surrender some hard-hit balls.
Auburn's Mike McQuillan lined a single to right off him with two outs and a runner on first in the second inning. In the third, Cyclones leftfielder Stefan Sabol bailed him out with a diving catch on a sinking line drive for the first out, then caught a fly ball a couple of feet in front of the wall for the second.
"Guys were aggressive," Santana said. "You try to throw some fastballs and they jump on them right away. But . . . it was great to see these guys making those kind of [defensive] plays."
Santana is 6-7 with a 3.98 ERA this season but has faltered since pitching a no-hitter -- the first in Mets history -- on June 1.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner is 3-5 with a 6.54 ERA in the eight starts since that historic performance, and he allowed 19 earned runs and 28 hits in 122/3 innings in his last three starts before being placed on the DL.
That brought speculation that Santana's surgically repaired left shoulder might have been adversely affected by the career-high 134 pitches he threw in the no-hitter.
To that, Santana said: "I knew [Mets manager Terry Collins] was going to be criticized, but it's all about how you feel. What happened to me had nothing to do with the no-hitter; it was my ankle and nothing else."