This time, Santana knocked down Derek Jeter and silenced New
York's powerful lineup.
The left-hander took a shutout into the eighth inning Wednesday
night and won his fifth straight start, spoiling Mike Mussina's
return from the disabled list by pitching Minnesota to a 7-2
Santana's last start against the Yankees came in Game 4 of the
2003 AL division series. The Yankees roughed him up for six early
runs and eliminated the Twins from the postseason.
Jeter said he doesn't remember facing Santana last October.
He won't forget this game.
Santana brought a loud roar from the crowd when he barely missed
hitting Jeter in the head with a high-and-tight pitch in the third
inning, sending the Yankees' star sprawling to the ground.
"That's a great lineup over there, they have some very good
hitters," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He went right at
Shannon Stewart went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBI for the
Twins, who have outscored the Yankees 15-4 in winning the first two
of a three-game series between AL division leaders. Jacque Jones
also homered for Minnesota, which won for the fourth time in six
games and sent New York to its third consecutive loss.
"It's great to beat one of the best teams, but we showed and we
proved that we can face any team," Santana said.
Santana gave up two runs and five hits in seven-plus innings
with six strikeouts and one walk. He retired 11 in a row during one
stretch and helped put an end to Jeter's 17-game hitting streak,
which tied a career high for the Yankees' shortstop.
Since the All-Star break, Santana is 6-0 with a 1.82 ERA,
perhaps pushing him to the front of the AL Cy Young Award race.
"Look at his numbers," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He'll
make anybody say 'Wow!"
Santana said he doesn't concern himself with individual awards,
"For me, it's all about the playoffs and the World Series this
time," he said.
After giving up only two hits through the first seven innings,
Santana (13-6) allowed three straight hits to open the eighth and a
run-scoring wild pitch. He was relieved by Grant Balfour, and the
Yankees scored another run on Miguel Cairo's RBI groundout.
Joe Nathan struck out two in the ninth, extending his streak to
29 scoreless innings spanning 28 appearances.
The crowd of 41,125 gave Santana a standing ovation as he walked
to the dugout.
After the game, Jeter asked reporters when he last faced
"To be honest, I don't even remember, but today he pitched
great," Jeter said.
Santana fared much better than Mussina (9-7), who made his first
start since July 6 -- he went on the disabled list the next day with
a stiff right elbow. Before the game, Torre said he hoped to get at
least five innings out of Mussina, but he didn't have much on his
pitches and Tanyon Sturtze came out for the fifth with the Twins
"We didn't expect lights out today," Torre said. "We were
hoping he'd throw more strikes, but he battled it."
Mussina, who fell to 20-3 lifetime against Minnesota, allowed
five hits, four runs, two walks and struck out two with one hit
batter. It was his first loss to the Twins as a Yankee. One
positive for Mussina: his elbow didn't bother him.
"I knew it wasn't going to be the way it was, just yet," he
said. "You hope you have better command of your fastball."
He looked rusty from the start. His second pitch of the night
was down the middle and Stewart knocked it into the left-field
seats to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.
Mussina appeared to settle down after that, but things started
going sour for him when he led off the fourth by hitting Lew Ford
in the leg with a pitch. Corey Koskie followed with a broken-bat
double, and Cristian Guzman hit a two-run double off the baggie in
Three batters later, Stewart lined a double to left to score
Guzman and make it 4-0.
Things got uglier for the Yankees in the sixth. Henry Blanco led
off with a triple off Sturtze and scored when Stewart hit into a
double play. Jones then hit his 20th home run of the year and Torii
Hunter followed with a double and scored on Justin Morneau's RBI
Jeter went 0-for-4. ... To make room for Mussina on their
roster, the Yankees optioned INF Andy Phillips to Triple-A
Columbus. ... Hunter has stolen 17 bases in 21 attempts. ...
Blanco's triple in the sixth gave him four hits in his last 36
at-bats (.110). ... The Twins won a series against the Yankees for
the first time since taking both series from New York in 2001.