For El Duque and the New York Yankees, it became an evening of unexpected opportunities.
First, Derek Jeter hit a three-run homer as the Yankees took advantage of some more sloppy fielding by the White Sox, overcoming Albert Belle's two home runs to beat Chicago, 6-3, Tuesday night.
Then, after the game, the Yankees announced that celebrated Cuban defector Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez would make his major league debut tonight--thanks to a dog bite to David Cone.
Hernandez was already in town because the Yankees were unsure whether David Wells would be able to pitch Tuesday. Wells woke up Monday with a stiff left shoulder, but was OK enough to pitch eight effective innings.
"Once I warmed up, I was fine," said Wells (8-1) after winning his eighth consecutive decision.
Cone, however, was not in such good shape. He got nipped on the inside of his right index finger by his mother's terrier, prompting Yankee Manager Joe Torre to start Hernandez in Cone's place.
"It is kind of a freak thing. It's kind of embarrassing," Cone said.
Hernandez, the older half-brother of World Series MVP Livan Hernandez of the Florida Marlins, escaped by boat from Cuba. He signed a $6.6-million, four-year contract with the Yankees in March and has gone 7-1 with a 3.33 earned run average for Triple-A Columbus and Class A Tampa.
Hernandez, who came to New York earlier Tuesday, was planning to take a flight back to Columbus before getting the news right before the game that he would pitch for the Yankees.
"It's a great story, obviously," said Cone, who does not expect to miss more than one start. "He's been through a lot of adversity. I think everyone is anxious to see him."
Paul O'Neill also hit a homer as the Yankees beat Chicago for the 10th time in their last 11 meetings. Wil Cordero hit a homer for the White Sox.
The White Sox, who rank last in the AL in fielding with 50 errors, hurt themselves with two more in the fifth inning.
With two out and a runner on third, Scott Brosius hit a grounder in the hole, and rookie shortstop Mike Caruso's throw skipped past Cordero at first base. The play was scored an RBI single and tied it at 2.
Chuck Knoblauch followed with an easy grounder to second baseman Ray Durham near the bag, but Durham fumbled the ball and made a late, errant toss to Caruso.
"That was the momentum shift right there," Durham said. "If I step on the bag, we probably win the game. It was a routine play and I should've made it."
Jeter made Mike Sirotka (6-5) pay for the mistakes, hitting a 3-0 pitch for an opposite-field homer just inside the pole in right.
Belle, who homered Monday night against the Yankees, led off the second with a shot to right-center. He opened the sixth with his 13th homer of the season. Belle has two multi-homer games this year and 29 in his career.
Minnesota 10, Oakland 3--Brent Gates came back to haunt his former teammates.
Gates, entering the game batting .141, went four for five with two RBIs in the Twins' win.
"I think it took me two months to get four hits all year," said Gates, who is still only hitting .181. "Coming up with the A's for five years, it's nice to be able to contribute for the other team."
Gates, batting second, got help from leadoff hitter Otis Nixon, who also had four hits.
"It's good to be back in the lineup and doing my thing," said Nixon, who returned from the disabled list Saturday after having surgery on a broken jaw.
Former Dodger Tom Candiotti (4-6) was pounded for eight runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Texas 7, Tampa Bay 3--Luis Alicea and Will Clark hit homer runs and pitcher Bobby Witt won for the first time in three weeks as the Rangers beat the Devil Rays in St. Petersburg.
Alicea, a late addition to the lineup at second base because Mark McLemore was bothered by stiffness in his neck, finished a six-run second inning with a three-run homer off Jason Johnson (2-3).
Fernando Tatis had a two-run single off Johnson in the second and Clark, who broke out of a six-for-41 slump with three hits, homered to center off Julio Santana for a 7-1 lead in the fifth.
Witt (5-3) won for the first time since May 11, giving up seven hits while striking out three and walking four in 5 1/3 innings.
The Rangers have scored 47 runs in his five victories. But Witt entered the game coming off two losses and a no-decision in which he yielded 22 hits and 16 runs in 16 innings.
Boston 11, Toronto 3--Nomar Garciaparra and Darren Bragg each hit three-run homers as the Red Sox won their fourth in a row over the Blue Jays.
Garciaparra, the hero Monday when he broke a 5-5 tie with a two-run homer off Randy Myers in the ninth, hit his seventh in the fourth to give the Red Sox a 4-2 lead.
Troy O'Leary added a solo shot for Boston, which has scored 36 runs in its win streak.
The Blue Jays have lost three straight and are 1-5 on their 11-game homestand.
Cleveland 8, Detroit 3--David Justice broke out of a slump with four hits, and Manny Ramirez hit a two-run double as the Indians beat the Tigers in Detroit for their seventh victory in eight games.
Dave Burba continued Cleveland's recent stretch of strong starting pitching with seven solid innings for the Indians.
Tony Clark hit a two-run homer for the Tigers, who have lost three in a row and six of eight. Detroit is 10-40 against Cleveland since the start of the 1994 season, including 0-4 this year.
Justice, who entered the game in an 11-for-57 slump, went four for five with three singles and a double. He also scored twice for the Indians.
Burba (7-4) gave up three runs on six hits, with four strikeouts and two walks. He is 5-1 with a 3.75 ERA in his last seven starts.