Welcome change: Rauch picks up Santana

June, 14, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Johan Santana followed his no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals by surrendering four homers and six runs in five innings against the Yankees, while working on two extra days of rest.

His second start since the no-hitter left room for improvement, too.

Santana departed with the bases loaded and none out in the sixth and was bailed out when Jon Rauch did not allow any of the three inherited Rays to score. The southpaw was charged with four runs on six hits and four walks while striking out six in a 96-pitch effort over five-plus innings.

The Mets ultimately won, 9-6, as Santana improved to 4-3.

Terry Collins noted that for the second straight outing Santana struggled with precisely spotting his pitches. Santana was pitching on one extra day of rest this outing, because the Mets had a team off-day Monday.

“He said he feels great,” Collins said. “I don’t know if he’s too strong right now. Look, I’m not real worried about him. I think he’ll get it going. The adrenaline rush that he had after that no-hitter, it takes its toll to get out of your system and get back to normal.”

Said Santana: “I felt better. It’s just that there were some innings that took forever. But I stayed with it. And I think the bullpen deserves all the credit today.”

Rauch had been apologetic in the past when he failed to protect leads for Santana.

This time?

“He came to me and said, ‘Finally I had a chance to save one for you,’” Santana said.

Said Rauch: “Oh yeah, I’ve screwed up plenty of his games so far. It was nice to support him for a change.”

Rauch had struggled enough that Collins altered bullpen roles for this series. Rauch ended up entering in the sixth inning in both of his appearances against the Rays.

The appearances turned out to be important spots nonetheless.

In Thursday’s finale, Rauch protected an 8-4 lead by stranding the bases loaded. In the series opener, Rauch entered in the sixth with the Mets leading 3-2 and stranded a runner inherited from Chris Young by coaxing a foul pop fly from Desmond Jennings.

“Relief pitching is hard,” Collins said. “And when you have a couple of bad outings, of course everybody wants to write you off. Jon was disturbed by it. We just said, ‘You know what? You’ve got a track record.’ And one of the things he’s got a track record of doing, that’s leaving people on base. And he did that today.”

Said Rauch: “I’ve told you guys before: If they want me to pitch in the sixth, eighth, ninth, whenever it is, just give me the ball and I’ll try to do my job the best I can. It’s nice to see that they still have the confidence in me to go out there and do the job in tough situations.”
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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Daniel Murphy
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