Saturday, June 03, 2006

Santana Saves Twins Again

Eight innings, two hits, nine Ks, no walks, one run allowed. That should pretty much say it all. Johan Santana basically won the game for the Twins. Yes, Justin Morneau hit a late clutch two-run home run to give the Twins the lead, but if not for horrible lineup construction, they may have had one earlier. Johan combined with an ever-dominant Joe Nathan to allow only two hits in the game, including a Frank Thomas homer, and the two struck out ten. Santana, after giving up hits to Bobby Kielty and Thomas in the second, retired 19 straight hitters.

Santana had, for the last two starts, almost looked mortal, giving up a few runs, not striking out too many hitters, and looking a little more vulnerable after a great six-start run. It looks as though he may be locked in again and, since it's June now, this may be for the rest of the season. With a 5-4 record and a 3.24 ERA, I can't even begin to fatham what that means. He could easily win 15 straight from here on out, end up with a 21-5 record, a 2.15 ERA, and 280-300 Ks. Considering Johan's ability to completely dominate after getting things worked out early in the season, who knows? It may be hard to rack up the wins, but I could see Johan doing amazing things again.

Meanwhile, on the offensive side of things, it's still looking bleak. Other than Morneau's late blast that secured the win, the Twins did almost nothing against Oakland starter Kirk Saarloos, who himself set down 13 straight at one point. Minus Justin's homer, the Twins offense managed a weak four hits against a fill-in starter who is very hittable and has been mediocre throughout his career. (Sounding familiar?)

The five walks for the Twins were a plus. But the lineup just looks bad. Sure, Nick Punto went 1-for-3 with a walk, but what is he doing batting leadoff? Is Gardy allergic to switching people around and moving Castillo there? Is this just like his idiotic use of Nathan? And why is Terry Tiffee in the lineup? (Never should have been called up. Send Boof down, not Baker -- see Ubelmann's thoughtful analysis of the situation at Twinkie Town). And if you call up a position player, was isn't it Bartlett? I've heard rumors of "character issues," but at this point, it almost feels like they are made-up.

Naturally, with greats like Tiffee and Batista in the lineup, the Twins can keep floundering away. Sure, when Santana or Liriano starts, they have a good chance to win. But when one of the other starters (pick one) has an awful game, how are they going to come back? It was a great game, but I'm still feeling uneasy with the Twins right now.