- Last Updated: 10:15 AM, August 18, 2012
- Posted: 1:02 AM, August 18, 2012
WASHINGTON — Think Muhammad Ali near the end of his legendary career getting pummeled by Larry Holmes, and there you have the sad spectacle Johan Santana has become.
For the sake of Santana’s dignity, the Mets might want to finally tell their former ace to go home for the year and see if six months of resting his surgically repaired left shoulder can somehow resurrect him for 2013.
Last night, Santana dominated early and then turned into a punching bag in the middle innings, sending the Mets to a 6-4 loss to the Nationals in front of 34,827 at Nationals Park.
“My season has been a roller coaster,” Santana said after allowing six earned runs on seven hits over five innings for his fifth straight loss.
For the second time in less than a week, Santana wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a shutdown.
“The next outing, we’ll see what the situation will be,” Santana said. “Right now I feel fine. I’ve done everything we were supposed to do and even better than what a lot of people thought I was going to do this year, but at the same time we’re competing and I want to win.
“I want to help and go as deep as I can in the game. We’ll see the next couple of days what [team officials] have to say and what we’re going to do.”
Santana (6-9) became the first pitcher in franchise history to allow at least six runs in five consecutive starts, losing each one with a combined 15.63 ERA. He has allowed eight home runs over that stretch, punctuated last night by Michael Morse’s grand slam and Bryce Harper’s two-run homer.
Harper’s blast in the fifth put the Mets in a 6-2 hole and made it clear Santana wasn’t going to end a winless drought that extends to June 30.
Manager Terry Collins said it’s a matter of Santana regaining arm strength after spending three weeks on the disabled list before getting shelled by the Braves last Saturday. But Collins also seems to have plenty of questions about Santana.
“Is he going to be as good as he was in April? I don’t know — he was terrific,” Collins said. “But it took a little time to get to April. He started last December. He [just] took a month off to rest up. Is it going to take two or three times out there? Maybe. Because I’ve seen the stuff, I think he’s going to be back to where he was early in the year.”
Santana’s night began to unravel in the fourth, with Morse’s grand slam that gave the Nationals a 4-2 lead. Jayson Werth, Harper and Ryan Zimmerman singled in succession before Morse hit a 90-mph fastball into the right-field seats for his 12th home run.
Santana retired the first nine batters he faced, but Werth’s single leading off the fourth jump-started the Nationals.
“It’s just a matter of building that arm strength up, because we saw a vintage Johan for three innings,” pitching coach Dan Warthen said.
Before the Nationals batted in the third inning, Santana was forced to cover a gold logo on his glove with a piece of blue duct tape after Nationals manager Davey Johnson complained to plate umpire Brian Runge.
It was the second time in three days a Mets pitcher was forced to conceal a potential distraction. On Wednesday in Cincinnati, R.A. Dickey was told to remove two pink bracelets — made by his daughters — he had worn for most of the season.
“This is the first time it happened,” Santana said, referring to the logo. “I never had any issues with it. I guess it’s part of the game.”Follow @NYPostsports