Skip to main content

Portrait Of The Artist As a Young Man II

"When they put his numbers on the scoreboard (8.16 ERA, 21 walks in 28 innings), I figured we were off to the races..."

"When I saw him come out of the bullpen that early, to be honest, I thought, `We're in trouble."

Those were the words of Astros manager Larry Dierker and Twins outfielder Matt Lawton to newspaper reporters from the likes of the Houston Chronicle, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, after their respective teams played a game against each other June 6, 2000.

But this wasn't just any game. It was the first major league win for Johan Santana.

Yes, those were Santana's numbers when he entered in the third inning in relief of Eric Milton, who was pulled from a scoreless game after being hit with a line drive. And that was Santana whom Lawton was referring to with those comments.

Santana had pitched in nine major league games to that point, none of which his team, the Twins, had won. Used most recently in games which the Twins lost, 14-0, 13-4, and 9-3, Santana was an afterthought for most.

But Santana had some special motivation for pitching well in Houston. Santana had pitched in Class-A ball the season before and the Astros left the then-20-year-old unprotected in the Rule V Draft. The Twins made an arrangement with the Marlins, who drafted Santana, than swapped him to the Minnesota, which had seen something that it liked. Or at least something it liked more than Houston did.

There may have been some jitters at first and that led to Santana allowing a run in his first inning of work. Those subsided when Santana retired Moises Alou to prevent any further damage.

Santana rewarded the Twins willingness to put him into a close game by pitching shutout ball over the next four innings against a lineup that featured, besides Alou, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. Alou turned out to be the first of seven straight hitters that Santana retired.

The Twins rewarded Santana by scoring three runs in the eighth inning to put him on the right end of the decision. The RBI came from Cristian Guzman, Lawton, and another player looking to establish himself in a positive way- David Ortiz.

The Astros would bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning and give Santana a slight cause for angst in pursuit of his inaugural victory. Twins closer Eddie Guardado ended matters by striking out Matt Mieske and a young rookie named Lance Berkman on three pitches each to end the game.

"I was so sad, when (the Astros) let me go," Santana said. "I said then I would prove myself to them. I cannot feel any better than this."

True Mettanas know...To read my other "Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man" piece, go to this link:


Popular posts from this blog

The best Mets ejections I know

When you think of the Mets and famous ejections, I'm guessing you first think of the famous Bobby Valentine mustache game, when after Valentine got tossed, he returned to the dugout in disguise. You know it. You love it. I remember being amused when I asked Bobby V about it while we were working on Baseball Tonight, how he simply said "It worked. We won the game." (true) But the Bobby V mustache game of June 9, 1999 is one of many, many memorable Mets ejection stories. And now thanks to Retrosheet and the magic of , we have a convenient means for being able to share them. Ever since Retrosheet's David Smith recently announced that the Retrosheet ejection database was posted online , I've been a kid in a candy store. I've organized the data and done some lookups of media coverage around the games that interested me post. Those newspaper accounts fill in a lot of blanks. Without further ado (and with more work to do), here are some of my findings

Minutiae Break: Worst Mets Relievers

It occurs to me after 79 straight walk-off related posts and some fatigue still remaining from Saturday's finish that I did promise to bring Metspective on other issues related to the Flushing 9, so I offer this posting up as a "Minutiae Break." This came about after several discussions related to the offhand Dick Tidrow/Danny Graves remark the other day , the conclusion of which indicated that it would be fun to create a list of the worst Mets relievers of all-time. I don't want to step on the territory of other bloggers, like " Faith and Fear in Flushing ," Mets Guy in Michigan " and " Metstradamus ," so I'll tread carefully here, aided by their influence. Should any friends, family members, or fans of these pitchers visit this site, I mean no harm. I'm just here to have a little fun with this topic. The ground rules are as follows: The pitcher must have had a Mets stint as long as Dick Tidrow's (11 games, 15 2/3 innings), for wh

The 'Duca of Earl (and walk-offs)

If I told you that the Mets had just obtained a guy who is a career .316 hitter with runners in scoring position? How about if I told you that the Mets just traded for a hitter who has consistently ranked among the toughest in baseball to strike out? Or if I mentioned that the Mets just dealt for a player who was selected to the NL All-Star team the last three seasons, with the last honor coming via a vote by his peers? So, although he's on the down side age wise, his throwing arm isn't as good as it used to be, and he doesn't provide much power, there are a lot of good things that Paul Lo Duca brings to the New York Mets. For example: He'll sacrifice his body for the good of the team The Dodgers and Braves squared off on August 23, 2002 and Lo Duca made an impact both on the start and finish of this game. Three pitches after being dusted by Greg Maddux, Lo Duca made him pay with a first-inning home run. The Braves rallied to tie the game, 3-3 in the ninth, but their bu