Commentary

Santana slammed by Yanks on Sunday

The Mets' ace didn't pitch poorly, but one mistake vs. Mark Teixeira cost him dearly

Updated: June 20, 2010, 11:14 PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Johan Santana now owns a share of a pair of franchise records. They ain't desirable ones, either.

Still, the New York Mets left-hander had little to be ashamed of after serving up a grand slam to Mark Teixeira in the third inning Sunday in a 4-0 rubber-game loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

[+] EnlargeJohan Santana and Mark Texeira
AP Photo/Kathy WillensSantana gave up his third grand slam of the season, and that was all the Yankees needed Sunday.

The long ball was preceded by a bloop single, an infield hit and a miscommunication at first base.

Santana has surrendered three grand slams this season. The only other Mets to allow that many grand slams in a season: Ron Taylor in 1969 and Armando Benitez in 2000. The four slams allowed by Santana as a Met also match a franchise record, this one shared by Tug McGraw, Al Leiter, Taylor and Benitez, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Fielding, generally Santana's forte, contributed to Sunday's third-inning unraveling -- or at least to the bases being loaded for Teixeira. With Brett Gardner already having reached on a bloop single to left field, and Derek Jeter producing an infield hit, Nick Swisher bunted toward first base. Ike Davis fielded the baseball, but second baseman Ruben Tejada and Santana bumped while converging at the bag. Neither could handle the flip from Davis on what "was supposed to be a routine play," according to Santana.

Jerry Manuel indicated that the second baseman has priority on that play, but the communication broke down, regardless.

"On that play, I've got to go for the base," Santana said. "So my straight line is to go towards the base and wait for Ike to toss the ball to me. All of a sudden, Tejada was there and we miss the play. It's just one of those things -- kind of lack of communication. It ended up costing us some runs."

Three pitches later, Teixeira had homered and the Yankees led, 4-0.

Entering 2010, Santana had allowed only two grand slams in his career.

In fact, in his first two seasons as a Met, opponents were 2-for-19 with a walk in bases-loaded situations against Santana. The only grand slam against him in that span was hit by Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez on June 23, 2008.

Santana has faced just six batters with the bases loaded this season -- meaning half of them have gone deep.

Still, Manuel thought the dimensions of Yankee Stadium helped immensely.

"In our ballpark, it might be a whole different game," the manager said. "I wouldn't say he jammed him, but he gave up a fly ball."

The Mets' seven grand slams allowed this season is the major league high, as is the tally of three surrendered by Santana. No other team entered Sunday having allowed more than four grand slams.

"I tried to throw a fastball inside," Santana said. "He put a good swing. That's the thing. I knew at all times we have to keep the ball down. He hit it just well enough to leave the ballpark -- or, to go over the fence and hit a grand slam."

So after sweeping series in Baltimore and Cleveland, the Mets completed their three-stop tour of American League ballparks with a rubber-game loss to the Yankees and a 7-2 trip overall.

That's not too shabby, considering the Mets entered the stretch with an 8-18 road record. But after winning the Subway Series opener behind Hisanori Takahashi to run their overall winning streak to eight games, it was at least mildly disappointing that Mike Pelfrey and Santana were tagged with consecutive losses.

The only other time the duo had consecutive losses this season came the only other time Pelfrey lost in 2010 -- in Philadelphia, when the Phillies had a six-run fourth inning against Pelfrey on May 1 and then produced a nine-run fourth inning the next day while chasing Santana.

"Once it's said and done, if you said we'd leave this road trip 7-2, you know I would have been shouting," Manuel said. "When you look at it and put it in that perspective, you've got to be happy that your team, which has struggled on the road, was able to get some things done."

Santana, who completed six innings against the Yankees, allowed four runs for the third straight start. His next outing is scheduled for Saturday, when he faces his former club, the Minnesota Twins, for the first time. That day, he will become the 19th active pitcher to have faced all 30 teams, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Meanwhile, the Mets had not suffered back-to-back losses since May 28-29 in Milwaukee. They split the season series with the Yankees, three games apiece.

They did not mount much offense against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia despite placing runners in scoring position in four innings. When Angel Pagan singled and Jason Bay walked to open the seventh inning, Sabathia responded by striking out Rod Barajas looking, then retiring Fernando Tatis on a double play. That dropped Tatis to 0-for-his-last-14. Tatis' last hit came May 23 against the Yankees at Citi Field, as a pinch hitter off reliever Boone Logan.

"Just because we lost this series and a couple of games, it doesn't mean that we're done," Santana said. "We've been playing great baseball. We just played against a great team, and we feel pretty good. Now we're going back home and hopefully will start all over again. When we go back home, we play well. Hopefully that will be the case next time."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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