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A Dodger Among Us

Johan Santana has started 27 games this year. Here are the runs the Mets have scored for him in those 27 starts: 7, 2, 2, 5, 4, 5, 5, 1, 2, 6, 0, 1, 2, 7, 0, 0, 1, 3, 3, 4, 6, 7, 1, 1, 4, 3, 1.

Santana has won 10 games with an ERA of 2.97. He’s been mostly marvelous since July, while his teammates have been decidedly unmarvelous. With better run support in those 13 games in which the Mets scored no runs, one run or two runs (just under half of his starts, for Pete’s sake), Santana could easily be north of 15 wins and thinking about 20. Instead, he’s the guy you want to apologize to on behalf of his Gandhi-esque teammates, aka the Slumber Company.

Today was no exception: Johan didn’t give up a hit until the fifth, and between it being Johan and those being the Pirates, you thought maybe today was that impossible day that would make 2010 OK, forever enshrining it as the year we shed our ridiculous “Did you know…” asterisk. It wasn’t of course (it never is), thanks to Pedro Alvarez and a single to lead off the fifth. It wasn’t even a shutout, thanks to a home run by old friend Lastings Milledge. And it wasn’t even a win, thanks to another home run by Jose Tabata and the Mets’ conscientious-objector status with bats in their hands. With Ike Davis on first in the ninth, Chris Carter almost became a happy exception and almost rescued Santana with a sharp pinch-hit at-bat, whacking two balls just foul down the left-field line before driving Milledge almost to the right-field fence. But it wasn’t to be [1] — once again, Johan lost through no particular fault of his own.

An oddity pointed out [2] by David Waldstein of the New York Times, in the kind of beat writing I adore: The Mets were traveling with a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. As Waldstein explains, Rod Barajas was claimed by the Dodgers on waivers late this morning, too late to get to his new team’s game. Since the Dodgers are off tomorrow, Barajas was told to go back to New York on the Mets’ charter and meet his new teammates in Milwaukee on Tuesday. So he sat around wearing Mets gear watching the Mets play on the clubhouse TV, ate the Mets’ postgame spread, went to the airport on the Mets’ bus and flew home on the Mets’ plane. Will someone bill the Dodgers for that, or is it baseball courtesy? It’s certainly odd, to say the very least.

Here’s wishing Barajas the best out in L.A. — the reign of God Barajas may have been limited to April and May, but it was still plenty enjoyable even if June, July and August were disasters. Best wishes aside, the catching job rightly belongs to Josh Thole now, both for the big strides he’s made in 2010 and the bigger responsibilities he’ll be asked to shoulder in 2011. It would have been ridiculous to give at-bats and catching assignments Thole needs to someone who isn’t in the Mets’ plans. It also would have been Very Jerry, as the sad final days of 2009 will remind us. (Hey, look! It’s Fernando Tatis!) In recent days Jerry Manuel has stopped saying absurd things about putting the best team on the field and being in a pennant race, and let the kids freaking play already. Whether that was Jerry coming to his senses or someone higher up in the Mets hierarchy helping him get there, I’m glad to see it happen. I also caught myself wondering what took so damn long, but these days that’s life as a Mets fan, isn’t it?