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Why did Jerry Manuel pull Johan Santana?

Johan Santana

New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Friday, May 28, 2010, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Morry Gash

In one of the better pitchers’ duels I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this season, Johan Santana and Yovani Gallardo swapped zeroes over the first eight innings of Friday’s game. The Brewers eventually won the game 2-0 on a walkoff two-run blast by Corey Hart off Ryota Igarashi in the bottom of the ninth inning, ending a 35-inning scoreless streak and an 86-inning homerless streak by Mets’ hurlers.

I’m still wondering why Santana, who was only at 105 pitches after eight innings, didn’t get a chance to decide his own fate.

Manuel explained his decision to Adam Rubin of

“Once he had doubled, fought through the eighth, I didn’t think it would be a good move,” Manuel said of Santana’s continuing. “And Fielder, I think, was seeing him pretty good anyway. I didn’t want to chance him to lose that ballgame out there after the way he had performed.

Anyway, Feliciano retired Fielder on a groundball to David Wright, but then Igarashi was brought in to face a series of right-handed hitters. Igarashi gave up a single to Ryan Braun, then retired Casey McGehee on a flyball to right, but them, boom, a two-out, two-run shot by Hart. Game over.

Santana told Rubin that he understood Manuel’s decision:

“At that point right there, Jerry decided to bring in Feliciano, but I was fine. ... He decided to go to the bullpen and that’s about it.

“The way everything was going -- the situation, the atmosphere, everything -- you don’t want to come out of the game, for sure,” Santana continued. “At the same time, we were playing baseball and trying to win the ballgame.”

That makes one of us.

*Note: Admittedly, I got the whole Santana ground-rule double thing wrong. Jerry isn’t that crazy. But I stand by my point that he should have been left in the game.