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GAME OF THE DAY

Santana shuts down Mets with impressive four-hitter

June 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

NEW YORK — Handed a huge lead against a struggling team, Johan Santana simply threw strikes and let 'em hit it.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner rarely has it so easy.

Santana pitched a four-hitter -- with only one strikeout -- for his first shutout in nearly two years, and the Minnesota Twins took advantage of four early errors Tuesday night in a 9-0 rout of the New York Mets.

Santana (7-6) received a rare burst of run support and was staked to a 5-0 cushion in the second inning. The left-hander cruised from there, needing only 92 pitches to toss his fourth shutout and first since Aug. 12, 2005, at Oakland.

Santana walked none and retired 15 of his final 16 batters in his sixth complete game and first since May 17, 2006, at Detroit. He didn't strike out a batter until striking out Paul Lo Duca for the first out in the ninth.

In 157 starts, Santana has never failed to strike out a batter. He led the AL in strikeouts each of the last three seasons.

"I wasn't even trying to strike anybody out. I didn't even get to two strikes," Santana said. "I'll trade my strikeouts for all those kind of outs right there because it's quicker."

The shutout was bad news for Twins broadcaster and former big league pitcher Bert Blyleven, however. While riding the team bus to the ballpark before the game, Blyleven challenged Santana to throw a shutout and said he'd shave his own head if the pitcher turned the trick.

"I think he's trying to hide right now," Santana said with a smile. "Believe me, tomorrow it's going to happen.... Hopefully by game time he'll be bald."

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