(Free Preview of Premium Content)
Johan Santana and Joe Nathan will be representing the Minnesota Twins when the American League All-Stars take on the National League All-Stars in Detroit for the 2005 All-Star Game. It is the 76th All-Star Game and it will take place on July 12 at Comerica Park. Both pitchers were voted in by their fellow players, and for Santana it will be a first.
Santana is in the middle of an up and down season after winning the Cy Young last year. He is currently 7-4 with a 3.74 ERA but is coming off two subpar outings. However, he does lead the American League in strikeouts with 140 and is holding American League batters to a league-best .220 batting average.
Some thought that Santana deserved an All-Star Game berth last season, but he got off to a slow start that hurt him in the voting. After the All-Star Game, Santana went on an incredible 13-0 run, and ended the year with a 20-6 record. The run became one of the main reasons the Twins went on to win their third straight American League Central.
Joe Nathan is turning into one of the best closers in the American League. Last season, he converted 44 of his 47 save opportunities and ended the year with a 1.62 ERA in 73 games. Although he endured a dry spell in June, Nathan has saved 23 games in his 25 save opportunities this season.
Acquired in a gem of a deal with the San Francisco Giants in 2003, Nathan was packaged with Boof Bosner and super-prospect Francisco Liriano for A.J. Pierzynski. In San Francisco, Nathan was a setup man, winning 12 games while saving none. Since 2004, Nathan has saved 67 games in 72 opportunities.
Jesse Crain and Torii Hunter were left off the American League All-Star roster. Crain, who has a team-best eight wins and a 1.41 ERA, was considered by many to be a manager selection for the game. Crain set an American League record by winning 11 straight games to start his career in relief.
Hunter, who is the leader of the Twins, will hope to get in by the Final Vote. In order to get that vote, he will have to beat out two Yankees, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui, White Sox centerfielder Scott Podsednik, and Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford. On the season, Torii has 14 home runs and his defense in centerfield has changed the outcome of games.