But Collins put the blame on himself, crediting Santana's rocky performance to detrimental extra rest afforded to the southpaw to recover from his longest outing since returning from shoulder surgery. Returning to normal rest, Santana will look to regain his rhythm on Thursday in the series finale against Tampa Bay.
"These guys at this level, they come to the ballpark and they have things that they do every day to get ready," Collins said. "Same for the pitcher. He pitches every fifth day or every sixth day, but there are things that they do. When you disrupt that, you can expect a problem."
Before Robinson Cano's 403-foot two-run blast in the second inning on Friday, Santana had tossed 19 straight scoreless innings. From there, everything unraveled. Cano, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in the third, sending Yankee Stadium into a frenzy and sucking the air out of the Mets' dugout.
Despite his early struggles, Santana stayed in the game for five innings to get the proper amount of work to be ready for his next start. The 134-pitch no-hit effort against the Cardinals gave Collins reason to worry about Santana's shoulder, so he limited his ace to just one bullpen session in the seven days leading up to the start on Friday.
"As I said to Johan, 'Look, you had too good command of your stuff,'" Collins said. "He didn't have it the other day. I'll take the beating for that, because I'm the one who asked you to be pushed back. Yes, you could have pitched on your regular rest. What would we have gotten? I don't know. He doesn't know. But I know one thing -- his time out there would have been short. That's why I left him out there the other night. I wanted him to throw 80 pitches, 85 pitches so he can stay in sync, so he's ready for his next start which is [Thursday]."
While the Rays boast the second-best home record in the American League, Santana has found success against Tampa Bay over his career, compiling a 2.75 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings.
Entering Wednesday's contest the Mets were fifth in the Major Leagues with a 3.04 ERA since the start of June, but the Rays weren't too far behind with the help of Thursday's starter Jeremy Hellickson, who leads the Majors with a .106 average against with runners in scoring position.
The 25-year-old right-hander hasn't won a game since May 16, and he struggled with his command in his last start. Hellickson walked a career-high seven batters, the most by a Rays pitcher in more than six years. He threw 108 pitches in just 4 1/3 innings in Miami, setting Rays' history by issuing two walks to the opposing pitcher, Ricky Nolasco, for the first time since the franchise's inception.
"From the very beginning, I was all over the place," Hellickson said. "I had no idea where it was going. ... It was just a bad game overall."
Manager Joe Maddon assigned Hellickson an additional bullpen session this week after his young starter admitted he felt uncomfortable after his first session. An off-day also contributed to the decision to send Hellickson out for another session.
"For me, Jeremy just needs to let that last game go," Maddon said. "This guy's been pitching really well. Really, really good fastball, changeup, curveball. If it's a feel thing, I understand that. Up until that game, I thought he'd been pitching as well as anybody on the staff."
Hellickson has never faced the Mets, but he enters Thursday's contest with a 1.59 ERA at home and a 2.65 ERA overall, both ranked fifth best in the American League. Despite a 2.42 ERA in his last four starts, he's 0-2 over the stretch after starting the season 4-0 in his first eight starts.
Mets: Dickey sets record, but scoreless streak snapped
R.A. Dickey passed Jerry Koosman on Wednesday, setting a franchise record with 32 2/3 scoreless innings. He also passed Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, who both had streaks of 31 innings without allowing a run. The last time Dickey allowed a run was on May 23.
Dickey hasn't lost a start since April 18, and the Mets are 11-2 with him on the hill this season. Dickey has a 0.23 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings in his last five starts.
Rays: Illness keeps Zobrist on the bench
Tampa Bay second baseman Ben Zobrist remains day to day after he sat out of Wednesday's game with a fever. He missed Tuesday's game with a sore hand. Maddon said the hand was still sore before the game on Wednesday, but it did not factor in to his decision to sit Zobrist.