Johan Santana has put the team on his back at critical moments in the season. But Santana (8-6) allowed three runs in the first inning of last night's 4-1 loss to the Braves, and the Mets’ hitters could do little against Tim Hudson.

Some have said this is a down year for the 31-year-old, but his numbers are similar to last year. His ERA last year was 3.13 by the season's end and with two months left this season, it sits at 3.20. 

The biggest difference is win total. The lefty is 8-6 after last night's loss and was 13-8 through as many starts last year.

Santana battled as he usually does, going seven innings despite stumbling out of the gate, but the problem continues to be run support.

Santana has the fourth-worst run support at 4.31 runs per game of any pitcher with a minimum of 120 innings pitched. And despite sluggers like Reyes and Beltran returning and Wright having a stellar year, Santana's run support is worse this year. 

Santana received 4.75 runs per game last season.

It remains to be seen whether the final two months of the season will be different this year. The Mets were exiting the dog days of August 2009 when they shut Santana down because of elbow problems. If New York is still in the Wild Card hunt come September, the Mets cannot afford to lost Santana. And the offense cannot afford to come up short for the ace.