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Johan Santana in familiar form, blanks Cardinals over two innings

Mets pitcher Johan Santana throws in the bullpen.

Mets pitcher Johan Santana throws in the bullpen. Photo Credit: Johan Santana. (Getty Images)

In his first start against major league hitters in 18 months, Johan Santana pitched two scoreless innings of one-hit ball Tuesday afternoon during an 8-6 win over the World Series champion Cardinals in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The Mets ace threw 29 pitches, 17 of them for strikes, and was on a 40-pitch count.

"I'm going to throw all of my pitches at any time," he told catcher Josh Thole in the dugout after warming up.

Santana threw primarily fastballs in the 87-88 mph range, once touching 90 on the radar, and mixed in four of his signature changeups.

After walking the leadoff hitter on a full count (his fastball was up in the zone), he settled down with an effective command, inducing a double play and getting Matt Holliday to fly out.

A more important indicator of Santana's health than velocity was his easy, relaxed delivery; another will be his well-being during the five days before his next scheduled start. Santana underwent surgery on his left shoulder in September 2010. His last game-situation start was a minor league rehab outing in July 2011.

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Post-surgery Mets ace puts exclamation point on start

Johan Santana took time for a Q&A via email with amNewYork Tuesday:

How did you feel on the mound today, both physically and mentally? It felt great; I was really comfortable. It was good to face major league hitters. It was a really exciting time!

What was your offseason regimen? I really took it off. I started to throw again in December.

What did you see from new Mets prospect Zach Wheeler when you were both training in Port St. Lucie last summer? Zach is a real prospect. He has a live arm. I think his future is unlimited.

What are your thoughts on the departure of Jose Reyes? We will miss him, but Ruben Tejada had a bright future ahead of him. He will do fine.

How do you keep the clubhouse atmosphere loose? I just joke around with the guys and we laugh. Nothing crazy. 

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