With the Mets' already underwhelming bullpen without closer Francisco Rodriguez, who was being arraigned on a third-degree assault charge in Queens Criminal Court, Santana went wire to wire in a four-hit shutout as the Mets beat the Colorado Rockies 4-0 in Thursday's rubber game at Citi Field.
Santana now is 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA over his past nine starts. The Mets, despite owning a .500 record, recorded their 17th shutout of the season.
"He's going to push himself to go out there every time and try to throw a complete game," said center fielder Carlos Beltran, who went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice fly to lift his average to .214. "But I think today was an incentive for him to say, 'You know what? I have to go outside and do it myself.' And he did. It was great."
Santana had his own off-the-field issues resurface this week. A woman filed a civil suit Tuesday in Fort Myers, Fla., alleging Santana sexually assaulted her in October at a golf course. Prosecutors had declined to bring criminal charges against Santana months earlier.
Santana insisted K-Rod's Thursday arrest and the lack of a closer did not influence his performance. He instead pointed to Wednesday's eighth-inning meltdown against the Rockies, in which a five-run frame against relievers Hisanori Takahashi and Manny Acosta resulted in a 6-2 defeat.
"Right before the game, I told Jerry I was ready for 10 innings," Santana said. "That was my mindset. I was focused to help this ballclub and go deeper in the game, especially after what happened last night on the field."
Santana added: "This game is not any different than last week or whatever. It's another win that we put in our standings and try to chase these guys down."
The performance came despite Santana lacking zip in his fastball.
"I just had a conversation with him about five minutes ago, and he said that today he felt that he didn't have nothing on his fastball," Beltran said in the postgame clubhouse. "But look at that. He didn't have nothing on his fastball and he was able to throw a complete game.
"He's a competitor, man. His changeup was there today. He was able to throw the changeup 2-2 counts, 3-2 counts. When you face a pitcher that's capable of doing that, as a hitter it's a very uncomfortable situation for you because you don't know what to look for."