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07/11/07 1:55 AM ET
Santana in finest All-Star form
Twins starter retires three batters on 10 pitches
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Johan Santana came into Tuesday's All-Star Game having not allowed a run in his two previous appearances in the event.
He made it three consecutive scoreless appearances at the Midsummer Classic, pitching a perfect 1-2-3 seventh inning. Santana struck out Carlos Lee swinging, caught Alfonso Soriano striking out looking and got Jose Reyes to ground out to Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen.
Ten pitches, with nine for strikes, in his one inning of work -- nothing like a dominant outing for the Twins ace.
"It felt good," Santana said with a smile. "It's always good to have an opportunity to come in and perform and help out the team. I knew that I would pitch just the one inning, so I was giving it everything I had."
Santana wasn't the only Twins player to see action in the 78th All-Star Game at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Both of his teammates were a part of the American League's dramatic 5-4 victory.
First baseman Justin Morneau was the first Twins representative to see action, entering the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. He replaced starting first baseman David Ortiz of the Red Sox.
It wasn't quite the debut Morneau was going for in his first All-Star Game, finishing the game 0-for-2 in his two at-bats. Morneau flew out to Reds right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. in his first at-bat while facing Padres right-hander Chris Young. He then popped out in foul territory to Pirates third baseman Freddy Sanchez in his only other plate appearance against Mets closer Billy Wagner
"Unfortunately, I didn't get a hit," Morneau said. "Hopefully I'll make it back and change that."
Morneau wasn't the only one to go hitless as Torii Hunter failed to record a hit in the game as well. Hunter went 0-for-2 after replacing starter Ichiro Suzuki in center field in the bottom of the fifth inning following Suzuki's inside-the-park home run. In his two at-bats, Hunter flew out to Soriano in left field in the seventh and grounded out to Sanchez in the ninth.
The night also was missing something from Hunter's only other All-Star appearance back in '02 -- a memorable defensive play. In that game in Milwaukee, Hunter robbed Barry Bonds of a home run at the center-field wall. But this time, Hunter wasn't on the field at the same time as Bonds, which prevented him from attempting the feat in Bonds' home park.
Still, the defensive-minded player said that it was a play in the field that he'll remember on the night, and not his poor plate performance.
"I held Jose Reyes to a single, so that was my highlight," Hunter said with a laugh. "But overall, it was a good experience."
There might not have been a highlight catch for the center fielder in this All-Star Game, but Hunter said he enjoyed himself a little more in his second appearance at the event.
"That was my first one, and I didn't want to step on any toes or anything," Hunter said of his '02 All-Star stint. "But this year, I'm just having fun. I'm open with it and I kind of know what's going on."
Hunter was able to keep his fellow teammates informed, including Morneau, who clearly was awed by his first All-Star experience, especially the time demands placed on the players. But for Morneau, the experience was all worth it, even if meant forgoing some of the usual downtime at this point in the season.
"I haven't sat down yet in two days," Morneau said with a laugh. "You want to do everything you can, to just be there for the fans, yet not to wear yourself out too much. But I'll remember all of it. Hopefully if I make it back here, I'll know what to expect."