134 pitches. Friday's Johan Santana no-hitter struck me, as a St. Louis Cardinals fan, for more than one reason. It was proof this Cardinals team continues to struggle, sure, and a bitter pill to swallow against the New York Mets, erstwhile pond scum, but it was also exactly as many pitches as star-crossed rookie Bud Smith threw in his own 2001 no-hitter, still the last one in Cardinals history.
That one, depending on how much weight you put on his brilliant night in San Diego, either cost a diminutive left-hander his career or probably wasn't what the doctor ordered for an early-twentysomething rookie with slow-burning shoulder problems. What will Johan Santana, a veteran returning from shoulder problems, take from the experience?
It's a lot of pitches. Santana's previous season high was 108, and he'd only gone over 100 three times in his first 10 starts. In June 2010 he threw 123 pitches, in the course of throwing seven scoreless innings at Petco Park, but his career high prior to this no-hitter was 125, back in 2007.
It's hard to tell a guy like Santana, who's been through so much on the way back to the big leagues, to come out after eight hitless innings, so I understand why he finished it off-I just hope the Mets treat him gingerly as long as they can.