"I wanted to give the guys out there a break," he said. "That's why I'm happy I pitched the complete game. That it was shutout, too ... that's better."
Thanks to that start, and another solid one on Tuesday, the veteran left-hander split Bank of America National League Player of the Week honors with Astros third baseman Ty Wigginton.
Wigginton finished off the week with an NL-leading .571 batting average, four home runs, 11 RBIs and nine runs scored.
Santana went 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA, giving up just three runs on 11 hits and two walks while striking out 13 in 16 total innings. Thanks in part to his dominance, the Mets rolled to six wins in seven games against the Nationals and Pirates, and they came out of it a season-high 4 1/2 games up in the NL East.
On Tuesday, Santana surrendered three runs to the Nationals in seven innings to lead the Mets to a one-run victory.
Then, on Sunday, he did pretty much everything right, throwing 75 percent of his 113 pitches for strikes to record the fifth shutout of his career and first in a Mets uniform.
The shutout was the first by a Mets starter since Oliver Perez on Sept. 6, 2006.
In his first season in the NL, the 29-year-old has earned the six-year, $137.5 million contract he signed this offseason, leading Mets starters in winning percentage, ERA and innings pitched.
But he isn't done yet.
"This is just the beginning," said Santana, who won Player of the Week honors for the fourth time and first in the NL.
You can't really hit the ball if you don't see it.
This year, Wigginton is apparently seeing it better than ever.
In his seventh year in the Major Leagues -- and first full season with the Astros -- the six-foot right-handed hitter has been surging in August, batting .473 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 16 games while bouncing around from left field to third base.
So far this season, he's batting .308 -- 30 points higher than his previous career high.
He said the reason for that is simple.
"I'm seeing the ball good, there's no doubt about that," said Wigginton, who won Player of the Week for the first time in his career. "I think it's just one of those things. I've always felt if I get my at-bats, the numbers will be there in the end."
Last week, Wigginton was even better, getting multihit performances in six games -- including three straight three-hit games -- putting up a .586 on-base percentage and singlehandedly carrying the Astros offense on Sunday by hitting a three-run homer off future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson that proved to be the difference in a 3-0 win.
"I think he's a little more selective than in the past," said Astros manager Cecil Cooper, whose team went 5-2 last week. "He's hitting a lot of balls to right-center, and when he hits the ball to right-center and gets base hits the other way, he's a much better hitter."
Other nominees last week included Wigginton's teammates Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt; Santana's teammates Mike Pelfrey and Jose Reyes and Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Jeff Kent and Manny Ramirez of the Dodgers.