Twins expect Santana to be set for Game 4

Updated: October 1, 2003, 3:29 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Johan Santana should be ready to pitch again by Sunday. Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire plans to make sure of it.

"I'll be nursing him myself. I'll be rubbing his leg. The training room is my office now for Santana," Gardenhire said. "We should have him back. Last time it was the same thing, he was ready to go for his next start in five days."

Santana left Game 1 of the AL playoffs against the Yankees after four strong innings Tuesday because of a cramp in his right leg. The Twins' terrific bullpen bailed them out -- four relievers held New York in check the rest of the way for a 3-1 victory.

"Unfortunately, it happened when he was throwing the ball well. We had to piece it together and our bullpen did a good job," Gardenhire said.

With a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five division series, the only way the Twins won't need Santana in Game 4 at home Sunday is if they pull off a sweep.

The 24-year-old left-hander was impressive Tuesday, allowing only three hits in four shutout innings. He struck out three, including Jason Giambi with two on to end the third.

But after only 59 pitches, Santana couldn't go back out for the fifth because of a cramp similar to one he experienced earlier this season.

"I was doing my job. I was feeling good. Then it just got tight," he said. "Injuries are part of the game. You don't expect that to happen, but I couldn't continue. I was done right away. The trainer told me, but I knew I was in pain. They told me I was out of the game. It was bad."

Rick Reed quickly warmed up and got two outs in the fifth.

"The whole thing sort of caught us by surprise," Reed said. "At first, we weren't sure what was happening."

J.C. Romero followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings, leaving a 3-0 lead in the sure hands of setup man extraordinaire LaTroy Hawkins and All-Star closer Eddie Guardado.

Hawkins fanned four in two scoreless innings for the win, and Guardado got three outs for the save -- allowing an RBI infield single to Alfonso Soriano in the ninth.

"Our best was good enough today," Hawkins said.

It had to be.

Santana, one of baseball's best young starters, moved from the bullpen to the rotation in midseason. He finished the year 12-3 with a 3.07 ERA, going 8-0 in his final 12 starts to help the Twins win their second straight AL Central title.

"I was trying to get over there and rub his hamstring and stretch it or something," center fielder Torii Hunter said. "I didn't want this guy to come out of the game."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press