Exactly one week after throwing the Mets' first no-hitter just across town, Santana will take the mound Friday night at Yankee Stadium as the Mets open a three-game Interleague set against their crosstown rivals.
Because both teams are near the top of their respective divisions, the rivalry should have some extra juice to it this weekend.
"I think it does," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "You look at both divisions and they're very similar. It seems like where you are in the division can change in three days dramatically, and I think that makes it interesting. [The Mets] are playing well."
It's been a busy week for Santana, who has fielded countless interview requests, been the recipient of accolades from celebrities like David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart, and even taken a congratulatory phone call from New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Through all of that, the most important aspect of this week for manager Terry Collins has been making sure there were no adverse effects from Santana needing a season-high 134 pitches to accomplish his historic feat.
"I told him I was fine," said Santana, who is 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA after missing all of 2011 following shoulder surgery. "I know my body pretty well, so I know if something's not right, I'm going to let him know. I'm not going to try to do anything crazy. But everything went fine, and I should be fine for Friday."
With his -- and the franchise's -- first no-hitter now behind him, Santana will set his sights on another first as he looks for his first victory at the new Yankee Stadium. Santana was lights out at the old stadium, going 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA, but enters Friday's series opener 0-2 with a 13.00 ERA in two starts at the new park.
"Facing Johan [on Friday] is going to be electric," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. "He can't get any better. Well, he could pitch a perfect game. We just have to be really sharp because if you expand the zone against Johan, he's going to be tough. When he's on his game, he's one of the best in baseball."
Speaking of firsts, Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda will counter Santana as he gets his first taste of the Yankees-Mets rivalry. Kuroda didn't fare well against the Mets in his four seasons with the Dodgers, going just 1-5 with a 5.75 ERA in seven career starts.
Now the Mets will come to the Bronx just as Kuroda seems to be settling into a bit of a groove in his first season in the American League. Kuroda has been up and down, but is coming off back-to-back quality starts in which he allowed just two combined runs over 15 innings.
After tossing eight shutout innings for a victory against the Athletics on May 27, Kuroda took a no-decision against the Tigers his last time out, despite allowing just two runs over seven solid innings.
"You have to stay resilient and battle and fight, and hopefully you give your team a chance to win," Kuroda said after the 4-3 loss. "We almost did, but hopefully next time."
Mets: Club avoids scare with Quintanilla
The Mets appear to have dodged a bullet with shortstop Omar Quintanilla and his bruised left index finger. Quintanilla, the fourth shortstop on the Mets' depth chart, injured the finger while diving for a ball Wednesday night, but remained in the game and suited up for Thursday's finale in Washington.
The Mets are without shortstops Ruben Tejada, Ronny Cedeno and Justin Turner due to injuries and Collins was contemplating his next step before learning that Quintanilla passed all his medical tests Thursday morning.
"If you play shortstop," Collins said, referencing the club's Minor Leaguers, "your name's been mentioned the past few days."
For now, it appears Quintanilla will be capable of remaining in that role, as he went 2-for-3 in Thursday's victory.
Yankees: Starting pitchers dealing in June
The Yanks' first turn through the rotation in June couldn't have gone much better, with the starters going 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA in six starts.
The five starters also combined on a season-high 22-inning scoreless streak that ended in the ninth on Wednesday.
"It's kind of hard not to be a believer right now," catcher Russell Martin said when asked if he thought the club's starters were feeding off one another. "Everybody is kind of chipping in right now. It has been fun to be behind the plate catching these guys. They're making me look good right now."
David Wright is 6-for-14 (.429) all-time against Kuroda, though he has never recorded an extra-base hit off the right-hander.
Derek Jeter's .442 career average (19-for-43) against Santana is his highest against any pitcher whom he's recorded 30 or more at-bats against.
The Yankees hold a 49-35 edge all-time against the Mets during regular-season play. The Bronx Bombers are 7-2-6 in the 15 season series since Interleague Play started in 1997.