Johan Santana was as dominant as ever on Friday night, tossing a complete game shutout while striking out nine. It was the third complete game of the season for Santana, and his second shutout. Although he got off to a rocky start to the season, just as he did last year, he is now showing the form that made him the 2004 American League Cy Young winner.
Last night was classic Santana, as he never really got into any trouble until the ninth, en-route to striking out nearly every batter in the Oakland Athletic lineup. The only batter who escaped Friday night without a strikeout was designated hitter Mark Kotsay, who was one of three A's to get a base hit.
On the other side of the coin was Danny Haren, who matched Santana pitch for pitch last night, culminating in a complete game loss. Haren, who fell to 10-8, has been great all season long for the Athletics, boasting a 3.90 ERA. But on this night, even the anemic Twins bats couldn't ruin Santana's effort.
The lone run came in the top of the fifth, when Lew Ford walked and stole second. Ford, who has filled in nicely for the injured Torii Hunter in centerfield, would come around to score on a Michael Cuddyer RBI single. That would be all the Twins would need, as they won their second straight game.
For Santana, this has been a great month. Dating back 30 days, Santana has a 1.98 ERA, and has a 4-1 record. In the month of August, he has a 2.05 ERA, and is 1-1 with 18 strikeouts in three starts. Friday was his first complete game since June 8, a complete game shutout on the road against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This shutout means a lot more to Santana, as they are jostling with these same Athletics for playoff positioning. If the Athletics should lose their lead in the American League West, then they would be standing in the way of Minnesota and their playoff aspirations. If the staff continues to pitch the way they have been for nearly a month and a half now, it could make for some interesting September baseball.
In his six-year Minnesota Twins career, Santana is 54-24, and has a lifetime ERA of 3.48. Coincidentally, that is the same ERA he has this season, to go along with his 11-6 record. His 11 wins lead the team, as does his 165.1 innings pitched and his 175 strikeouts. In fact, his innings pitched are good for seventh in the entire Major Leagues, and his strikeouts are good for second, only behind Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres.
Jones To Join Hunter?: Jacque Jones, one of the most consistant hitters on the Twins, could be joining fellow starting outfielder Torii Hunter on the disabled list. Jones has a strained right oblique muscle, and will get Saturday off to see if he heals. If not, the Twins could make a move for either Rochester outfielders Kevin West or Jason Tyner, or newly acquired Brian Buchanan. However, to swing that, more moves would have to be made to put them on the 40-man roster.
Joe So Good: Joe Nathan is one of the best closers in all of baseball, with that said, here are some of his recent statistics. He has not allowed an earned run in 15 of his last 16 appearances, and is 4-0 with a 0.49 ERA during that span. He also has recorded ten saves, allowed only seven hits, and has struck out 15 batters. Since the All-Star game, he has only been given three save opportunities, a sign that the Twins are struggling.
Get Well Larry: Larry Corrigan, a special assistant to the general manager and the Twins' American League scout, is recovering in a Kansas City hospital after suffering a heart attack on Wednesday. He experienced chest pains at Kaufmann Stadium, and paramedics had to save him using defibrillation devices. After surgery to repair 90 percent blockage in his arteries, doctors are hopeful he can be released on Sunday. Everybody here at TwinCitiesDugout.com wishes Larry a speedy recovery, and will keep him in our prayers.
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