Johan returns to form after two rough outings

After two sub-par starts (10 IP/10 ER) following his no-hitter on June 1st, New York Mets starter Johan Santana returned to form on Tuesday night.  The left-hander tossed six scoreless frames leading NY to a 5-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles; collecting his fifth win of the 2012 season in the process:

Santana had struggled with his command during his previous two starts, walking ten batters over ten innings. And there were obvious concerns that the former Cy-Young Award winner was still feeling the effects of his 134-pitch no-hit effort on June 1st.  Tonight, however, he allowed Mets fans to exhale a sigh of relief.  Santana threw 63 of 101 pitches for strikes, striking out five and walking two.  He needed just 11 pitches (8 strikes) to complete a 1-2-3 first and 17 (12 strikes) in the second; working around a lead-off double by Matt Wieters with ease. His only rough patch came in the top of the fourth, after J.J. Hardy got things started with a lead-off single and advanced to third on a double by Wieters.  With runners on second and third and one-out, the 33-year-old veteran struck out the next two batters he faced to end the inning and the Baltimore rally. Then in the sixth, after the Orioles put two runners on base with two-outs, Johan induced Mark Reynolds to ground out to end the inning.  Following the game, Mets manager Terry Collins spoke about the importance of this start for the clubs ‘ace’:

I think it was really big for Johan.  He had much better stuff today.  Life to his fastball, his breaking ball had much better depth to it. Change-up has always been a good pitch. But much better command. …That no-hitter took a lot out of him.  That and all that comes with it.  The next start he’s gotta face the Yankees in there and it’s all the hoopla.  I’m not sure the adrenaline didn’t wipe him out for the whole week. But I thought he was much sharper today.  He was really good.”

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