Johan Santana makes closer unnecessary, pitches 4-hitter to lead Mets over Rockies 4-0

By Ronald Blum, AP
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Santana makes closer unnecessary, blanks Rockies

NEW YORK — Johan Santana saw Jerry Manuel before taking the mound against the Colorado Rockies.

“Don’t come out there today. Leave me alone,” the Mets ace told his manager.

“I sure would love to,” Manuel responded, “because they don’t want to see me out there anyway.”

Santana made a closer unnecessary, a good thing for New York because Francisco Rodriguez wasn’t available. After Rodriguez was arrested on a charge of assaulting his girlfriend’s father at Citi Field, Santana pitched a four-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory Thursday.

“Right before the game, I told Jerry I was ready for 10 innings.” Santana said. “So that was my mindset.”

Just before the game began, the Mets suspended Rodriguez for two days without pay, a move that if not reversed would cost him $125,683 of his $11.5 million salary. Manuel said the decision was made without his input.

Rodriguez was charged with third-degree assault after Wednesday night’s game, police said. His girlfriend’s father — identified by authorities as 53-year-old Carlos Pena — was in a hospital with a scraped face and bump on his head following the confrontation at a Citi Field family lounge.

Santana has his own legal troubles. A Florida woman who accused him of rape sued the Mets ace in Lee County, Fla., after authorities declined to prosecute the case. Santana said after the game he had no additional comments.

Against the Rockies, Santana (10-6) won for the second time in four starts and boosted the Mets back to .500 at 57-57 with only their second series win since June 27. Using a nasty changeup, he struck out 10 and walked two — striking out the side in the first.

In a rare quick game that took just 2 hours, 18 minutes, Santana needed 115 pitches for his 49th double-digit strikeout game, 11th complete game and eighth shutout in 259 career starts. All four hits he allowed were singles, and he improved to 5-1 with a 1.88 ERA in his last nine starts.

“We didn’t hit many balls hard,” Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez said.

Carlos Beltran went 3-for-3 with a double and sacrifice fly for his first three-hit game for the Mets since his season started on July 15, raising his average to from .185 to .214.

“I still feel like I’m battling at the plate,” said Beltran, who missed the first half following knee surgery on Jan. 13. “I don’t really feel comfortable. I still feel like I’m fighting every single at-bat. But today the only difference was I was able to get results. Every time you gets results, you just develop a little bit of confidence.”

Jason Hammel (8-7) gave up four runs and eight hits in seven innings, losing for the fourth time in five decisions. Troy Tulowitzki had two of Colorado’s hits.

“Any time you pitch against Johan, you know there’s a small margin for error,” Hammel said. “Basically, he did his Johan thing.”

Jose Reyes sparked the Mets in the first when he singled, stole second and scored on a single by Angel Pagan, who came around on Ike Davis’ double and Beltran’s sacrifice fly.

Santana keyed a two-run seventh following a one-out walk to Ruben Tejada — who has four hits in his last 51 at-bats (.078). Santana tilted his bat as if to bunt, then pulled it back and had a hit-and-run single that put runners at the corners. Reyes singled for a 3-0 lead, and Fernando Martinez drove in Santana with a sacrifice fly.

Santana thought it was the first time he ever had been given a hit-and-run sign.

“I was waiting for it for a long time,” he said.

Going in, he knew he would have to go it alone.

NOTES: The Mets filled Rodriguez’s roster spot by recalling RHP Ryota Igarashi from Triple-A Buffalo. He took a taxi from Scranton, Pa. — at a cost of $300 — and arrived in the sixth inning. New York activated RHP Sean Green from the 15-day DL and optioned him to Buffalo. Green had been on the DL since April 8 with a strained muscle in his right side. … The Mets lead the majors with 17 shutouts; the Rockies have been blanked six times, tied for the NL low. … Colorado has lost 23 of its last 27 games at the Mets. … New York C Rod Barajas (left oblique strain) started a rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Mets.

(This version CORRECTS Mets 4, Rockies 0. Edits 9th graf to correct to second win in four starts sted first. New approach.)

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