Johan Santana is looking mighty dominant and Twins fans should be happy. Its only May 3rd and he is already showing signs of his top form. Last night, against the Seattle Mariners, he had 9 Ks in seven innings and allowed just six hits. But that doesn't tell the whole story. Santana allowed three straight hits to start the game before striking out Richie Sexson, Carl Everett, and Adrian Beltre in succession. He also struck out the side in the sixth. Also, of his 99 pitches last night, 76 were for strikes. It seemed like he went 0-2 on every hitter. His fastball was routinely clocked from 95-97, hitting 98 at one point last night. When Santana is attacking hitters that aggressively and throwing strikes, that is when opposing teams need to look out. Even though it's only Seattle, a fairly punchless lineup, we should be excited to see his form coming out.
As for Joe Nathan, it didn't appear anyone could touch him. After Carl Everett singled to start the ninth, it was nothing but fastballs. 99-mph ones. Beltre, Johjima, Robert Petagine. None of them could do anything against his fastballs. And when the breaking ball came in, they looked even more helpless. Gotta love the pitching performance last night.
As for the hitters, scoring five runs was big. But how they scored them was positive at times and also negative. It was positive that the Twins had a few extra-base hits, with Rondell White driving in a run on a double and Joe Mauer and Luis Castillo picking up doubles as well. Tony Batista's RBI single was solid too and give Nick Punto credit, though his RBI single was basically a Texas-leauger. Shannon Stewart's double-play grounder scored the fourth run while Torii Hunter drove in the fifth with a sac fly. Those are all fine things, but what was disconcerting is that it feels like they can piece a few singles together in games where starters leave fastballs over the plate, but they quickly stop hitting. The Twins didn't have any hits from the third inning to the seventh. I'd like to think they are breaking out, but I need to see something more.
Of course, tonight's game is the perfect cure: Last year's "extra-batting practice pitcher champion" Joe Mays. Mays is 0-3 on the year with a ERA of 11.07. Of course, to be fair, although Mays' ERA is higher than the Twins' starter, Brad Radke's, Radke has allowed a higher OBA (.374) and of course those 10 dingers. It could get ugly. Look for a 9-8 Twins win. With all those runs scored in the first few innings.