DETROIT -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi called it one of the "toughest" spots a manager could be in.

"I don't envy what he had to go through last night," Girardi said of Terry Collins' decision to leave Johan Santana in Friday night's game as the lefthander, back from shoulder surgery, saw his pitch count climb toward a career-high 134.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"Terrible," Girardi said, characterizing the manager's dilemma. "Because here's the thing that goes through your head -- you don't want to be the guy that ruins a guy's chance for a no-hitter, but you also don't want to be the guy that ruins a chance for your team in the postseason because you let a guy go too long and he ends up having to go on the DL for a month or two months or, worst-case scenario, having to have surgery. It's terrible. It's one of the tougher spots you're going to be in as a manager."

Girardi said making it even tougher was that no Met had thrown a no-hitter before. "That's even more pressure," he said. "If he takes him out, I mean, obviously, and I understand, the fan base is going to be upset. And Santana might be upset. And if he leaves him in and he goes on the DL two weeks later, people are going to say . . . ''

He paused. "So it's tough. Terry was in a tough spot."