Around the horn: Aug. 23

Johan Santana

? If you missed the incredible 1-0 duel between countrymen Freddy Garcia and Johan Santana, download it. It was one of the best games I have watched this year.

Garcia dominated the Twins from the get go. He got two lucky breaks in the sixth. First, Pablo Ozuna misplayed a ball hit by Michael Cuddyer. The official scorer ruled it a two-base error, but it could have gone either way.

Then with two outs and Cuddyer on third, Nick Punto launched a drive toward right field. Jermaine Dye raced back towards the wall at full speed, reaching up over his head and grabbing the ball as he slammed into the fence for the third out. It was our Top Play of the Day.

At that point, I thought Garcia would get the no-no for sure. Plays like that always happen in no-hitters.

But Garcia’s luck ran out in the eighth

He hung a 1-2 curveball to Jacque Jones leading off the inning, and Jones ripped a 423-foot tater. It was an incredible feat for Jones, who played the game with a heavy heart. Jones will miss the next two games of the series and return to his hometown in the San Diego area for the funeral of his uncle.

Jacque’s jack opened the door for Santana, who is 6-1 with a 1.57 ERA since the All-Star break. The Venezuelan gave up three hits and one walk in eight innings. He could be headed to another Cy Young award.

The White Sox are reeling. They have lost eight of their last nine games, scoring 26 runs in total. Their lead in the American League Central has dropped from 15 games on Aug. 1 to seven over Cleveland and 9 1/2 over the Twins as of Tuesday night.

? In the last 10 seasons, the only other pitcher to lose a game in which he allowed only one hit was Ted Lilly for the Yankees on April 27, 2002 at Safeco Field.

Ironically, Lilly’s mound opponent that night was Garcia, who was then a Mariner.

I remember watching that game at O’Neill’s Bar in Hoboken, NJ. Cablevision wasn’t carrying the YES Network yet, so on my nights off, I would go to O’Neill’s and watch the Yanks.

Lilly took a no-hitter to the eighth inning of a scoreless game, but with one out Dan Wilson drew a walk. Pinch-runner Luis Ugueto moved to second base on a wild pitch and scored on Desi Relaford’s single, the only hit allowed that night by Lilly.

In the last 20 seasons, two other pitchers have lost a complete game one-hitter on a dinger: The Royals’ Kevin Appier against the Rangers on July 27, 1993 (home run by Rafael Palmeiro in the seventh) and the Jays’ Paul Menhart against the Orioles on Aug. 2, 1995 (homer by Harold Baines in the second).

? One last tidbit on the duel: Both Jones and Garcia are on my fantasy team.

? The Indians and Yankees leapfrogged over the slumping A’s in the American League Wild Card race with 5-4 wins on Tuesday. The Tribe won their sixth straight, overcoming a four-run deficit to beat the Rays. And Felix Escalona’s walk-off single lifted the Yanks past the Blue Jays.

? The Yanks showed a lot of heart in that comeback win. They just kept coming right back against the Jays. They trailed 2-0 after five against red-hot Josh Towers. New York scored single runs in the sixth and seventh to tie the game. Toronto retook the lead in the eighth, and the Yankees tied it. Toronto did it again in the ninth against Mariano Rivera, but Bombers responded in a big way.

Hideki Matsui — again how clutch is this guy? — led off the ninth with a game-tying homer, then Escalona’s two-out hit won it.

Al Leiter pitched well, allowing three runs on six hits and just one walk over seven-plus innings.

? The Yankees became the first AL team to erase deficits in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to win in the ninth since the Washington Senators against the St. Louis Browns on May 21, 1949, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

? Mo Rivera is worrying me. After going 1-0 in July with a 1.08 ERA, he’s 1-1 this month and his ERA has gone up to 3.46. He’s given up at least two hits and a run in three of his last five outings.

? Facing his boyhood idol, the great Roger Clemens, Jake Peavy was the better man on Tuesday night at PETCO Park. The Padres’ 24-year-old right-hander outdueled the Rocket in a 2-0 decision, fanning six and holding Houston to four hits in a complete-game gem.

The shutout was Jake Peavy’s third of the season and second in four starts.

? Who says all the offense is in the American League? The Pirates, Cubs, Brewers and Mets rolled to easy wins on Tuesday. The Pirates shut out the Cardinals, 10-0; the Cubs slammed the Braves, 10-1; the Brewers beat up the Marlins, 11-2; and the Mets clubbed the Diamondbacks, 14-1.

1 Comment

Nothing like watching the Mets score a ton of runs. Maybe tomorrow someone will hit a ball that will make a fan leap into the pool (remember that from last year?).

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