On-Base Perception

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Vignettes on a no-hitter

Johan Santana throws his last pitch to David

Johan Santana throws his last pitch to David Freese for a no-hitter. (June 1, 2012) (Credit: David Pokress)

Next to the players on the field Friday, the person most responsible for Johan Santana ending the Mets' no-hitter draught might be Omar Minaya. Minaya, the ex-General Manager who presided over several gut-wrenching collapses, had been demonized before he was replaced before the 2011 season. He was largely forgotten afterwards.

But if he never did anything else for the Mets, he pulled the trigger on the deal that brought Santana to the Mets. He waited out the Yankees and Red Sox initial interest, ponied up the “prospects” and on Feb. 2, 2008 delivered the southpaw to Flushing.

Minaya didn't give up any impact prospects for Santana. He sent Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey and Phil Humber to Minnesota. None had distinguished careers until Humber's recent resurgence (he pitched a perfect game earlier this season and flatlined almost immediately afterward).

In a little over four seasons, Santana did what Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden and Pedro Martinez could never do for the Mets. And Minaya deserves some accolades for his role in bringing that to fruition.

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Jason Bay last played for the Mets on April 23, and is on the disabled list with bruised ribs. He normally mans left field, the location of perhaps the biggest play during Johan Santana's no-hitter. Because Bay is not healthy, Mike Baxter has been given more opportunities to play. Friday, he started in left field and tracked down Yadier Molina's history-threatening liner, injuring himself on the play. Would Bay have made the catch?

After Baxter was removed from the game, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who started the game in center, moved to left field. Nieuwenhuis might still be in Triple A if not for an early-season injury to outfielder Andres Torres. Nieuwenhuis made his first impression count, showing strong defensive play to go along with a solid bat. He's been a mainstay in the lineup since. Nieuwenhuis caught the second out of the ninth inning, the last ball a batter put in play against Johan Santana.

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Josh Thole was fortunate to be behind the plate on Friday, and not just because he now has a no-hitter on his resume.

It's because Thole spent Thursday in the starting lineup for the Mets Triple A affiliate. He was with Buffalo while rehabbing a concussion. After the game, Thole said that, if he hasn't insisted on joining the big club, he might have been catching in the minors on Friday too. Terry Collins was pushing for it to happen.

“TC tried to talk me into it,” Thole said. “He said, 'Are you sure you're ready?' And I said, 'Yea, I'm ready.' It's pretty awesome.”

Tags: Jason Bay , Kirk Nieuwenhuis , Johan Santana , Josh Thole , Terry Collins , Andres Torres , Mike Baxter , Omar Minaya , Phil Humber

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