Yanks' Vazquez to oppose Twins' Santana

Updated: October 9, 2004, 1:14 AM ET
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins left-hander Johan Santana is ready to start against the Yankees on short rest. New York will send struggling right-hander Javier Vazquez to the mound.

Santana: One Day Early
Johan Santana becomes the 13th pitcher to start against Joe Torre's Yankees in the postseason on 3 days' rest. How the previous 12 fared:

G6, '03 WS, Josh Beckett (Fla 2, NY 0)
9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K, WIN

G2, '03 WS, Mark Redman (NY 6, Fla 1)
2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, LOSS

G4, '02 ALDS, J. Washburn (Ana 9, NY 5)
5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, WIN

G1, '01 ALCS, Aaron Sele (NY 4, Sea 2)
6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, LOSS

G2, '01 ALCS, Freddy Garcia (NY 3, Sea 2)
7 1/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, LOSS

G4, '01 WS, Curt Schilling (NY 4, Ari 3)
7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, NO-DECISION

G7, '01 WS, Curt Schilling (Ari 3, NY 2)
7 1/3 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, NO-DECISION

G1, '99 ALCS, Kent Mercker (NY 4, Bos 3)
4 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, NO-DECISION

G1, '98 WS, Kevin Brown (NY 3, SD 0)
8 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, LOSS

G5, '97 ALDS, Jaret Wright (Cle 4, NY 3)
5 1/3 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, WIN

G5, '96 ALDS, Scott Erickson (NY 6, Bal 4)
5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, LOSS

G5, '96 WS, John Smoltz (NY 1, Atl 0)
8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K, LOSS

Totals: 12 starts, 3-6, three no-decisions, 2.78 ERA, six IP per start. Yankees' record in those games: 8-4.

Other Notes:
Since 1999, pitchers have started 38 postseason games on 3 days' rest ... they've gone just 7-20 and their teams have won just 10 of the 37. The winning pitchers:

Josh Beckett, Marlins, 2003 World Series (G6)
Andy Pettitte, Yankees, 2003 World Series (G2)
Russ Ortiz, Braves, 2003 NLDS (G4)
John Lackey, 2002 World Series (G7)
Jarrod Washburn, 2002 ALDS (G4)
Jamie Moyer, Mariners, 2001 ALDS (G5)
Shane Reynolds, Astros, 1999 NLDS (G1)

Santana told Minnesota Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson on Friday that his arm felt fine, which was all manager Ron Gardenhire needed to hear.

Santana threw seven shutout innings in Minnesota's Game 1 victory Tuesday.

"You've got to throw your best at them, and if he wants the ball, that's good enough for us," Gardenhire said Friday before Game 3.

Santana, who went 13-0 in his last 15 regular-season starts, led the league in ERA (2.61) and strikeouts (265). His durability has been a concern for the Twins, who carefully watched his pitch counts down the stretch. Santana has only one complete game in 75 major league starts and his 228 innings surpassed his career high by nearly 70.

He's never thrown on three days' rest in the majors, either, but this is the postseason -- when the adrenaline is always flowing.

"This time of year, it doesn't matter," Santana said. "I feel pretty good, and that's the most important thing. ... You have to make sure that you are ready, because if not the ball is going to be out of the park."

The other option for Yankees manager Joe Torre was Orlando Hernandez, but El Duque is bothered by a tired arm.

After making the All-Star team as an injury replacement, Vazquez had a terrible second half -- going 4-5 with a 6.92 ERA. He won only once in his last nine starts.

"I have to understand that I didn't do a good job in the second half," Vazquez said Friday before Game 3. "You have to be your own critic. I didn't do the best job. ... I'm just glad I'm getting this opportunity."

For Torre, the biggest concern with Vazquez was not his second-half struggles or his lack of postseason experience -- but his tendency to put too much pressure on himself.

"Hopefully, he'll get through three or four innings and he'll be comfortable," Torre said.

Last week in New York, Minnesota got seven hits and four runs off Vazquez in 6 2/3 innings. Though he left open the possibility of Hernandez starting, Torre said he informed Vazquez of his decision Wednesday -- when he chose Kevin Brown as the Game 3 pitcher.

"The reason I don't think there's anything wrong is because his warmup sessions have been very normal," Torre said. "He gets in the game and tries to turn up the heat a little bit and has a tendency to try to overdo things."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press