Collins agonized over whether to let Johan Santana finish off the first no-hitter in Mets history, but ultimately decided he was not going to take the ball out of Santana's hands. He made sure the veteran lefty, in his first season after shoulder surgery, was feeling OK. Once Santana confirmed he was, the game was his.
That doesn't mean the call was easy.
"I just said, 'Look, I tell you guys every day, you've got a say in what goes on here,'" Collins said. "'You've got a voice and your voice is going to be heard.' I said, 'It's on you.' ... I'm very, very excited. But in five days, if his arm is bothering him, I'm not going to feel very good."
Santana threw a career-high 134 pitches, and he was at 93 through six innings. He was effective all night, but at no point was he especially efficient.
"He just asked me how I was feeling, and I told him I was fine," Santana said. "It's the type of situation you don't even think about pitch count or anything. Just trying to get quick outs, and I was just going with it. It's just a situation where you're just trying to get some outs and get out of there."
Collins had been asked before the game how long he would go with Santana, and while the number he had in his mind was higher than 100 pitches, it was surely lower than 134. He couldn't have foreseen the circumstances, though.
"Certainly I wanted it for him, wanted it for our organization and all of the people who were here tonight," Collins said. "But you just don't jeopardize the whole organization, a season, for one inning. So in five days we'll see how it is."
In truth, the decision was probably made in the seventh. Santana was already over 100 pitches when his spot came up in the lineup with a runner on first and nobody out. Collins left him in to bunt. Santana endured a challenging eighth that included a walk, and by that point, the ship had almost certainly sailed.
When his spot came up again in the eighth, Santana watched six pitches in a strikeout, never moving the bat. He came back out for the ninth and finished off the no-no.
"I thought his stuff in the ninth inning was better than it was in the seventh," Collins said. "His fastball had some zip. His slider had some good bite to it. And you can tell, that's strictly adrenaline. And that's why you're going to have to wait a couple days for that adrenaline to wear off."
Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less