Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Santana Achieves a First

Johan Santana has done many things in his career, winning two Cy Youngs, striking out 200+ batters for three straight years, winning the pitching Triple Crown, and wowing the whole baseball world with his world-class changeup. However, in that time, he's never thrown a shutout with only one strikeout. In fact, Santana hasn't struck out just one hitter in a start since his first start in 2004, in which he pitched only four innings.

Of course, despite the fact that he only struck out one, he still has 106 on the year, but it does now seem plausible that Santana may not win his fourth straight strikeout title. Strange as it is, without having his normal strikeout stuff, Santana was about as dominant as he ever has been. Carlos Silva seems more like the kind of pitcher to throw a shutout with only 92 pitches and to strike out only one while walking none, but Santana did it against the Mets last night in a 9-0 victory.

If anything, this game only adds to Santana's growing legacy. He can be the kind of guy to strike out 14 batters when he has absolutely filthy stuff and he can still shut down a strong lineup even if he doesn't have it. That's an indication of the pitching intelligence and feel that Santana has, which is clearly quite high. That combined with the fact that many of the Mets batters have never faced Santana led to a very quick game. Not being familiar with Santana meant that many needed to take a "hack-away" strategy in dealing with Santana, which may be indicated by the 17 fly ball outs.

In total, Santana gave Twins fans something a little new by getting through a lineup quickly and effectively without strikeouts. However, such a dominant pitching performance wasn't the only accomplishment on Santana's plate. Santana also went 1-for-4 at the plate with a walk and his first career double. As a hitter in interleague game, Santana has always given the Twins some of the best swings amongst their pitchers. Perhaps they consider slotting him in the DH spot when they return to AL play.

Aside from his own offensive contributions, Santana was surely happy to finally get some offensive support from a Twins lineup that was anemic on Monday night. Nine runs was more than enough for Santana, as the Twins finally beat around a mediocre pitcher that they needed to knock out in Jorge Sosa. That gives Santana a 7-6 record and a 2.91 ERA in the middle of June, hopefully setting him up for another one of his famous second-half runs.

Unfortunately for the Twins, they may have more troubles on their hands today, as they take on lefty Oliver Perez and send Scott baker to the mound at least one more time. The Twins have struggled against lefties this year. Not only is Perez a southpaw the Twins have not seen before, but he has also been one of the better pitchers in the NL, going 7-5 so far with 76 strikeouts in 83 innings and only 63 hits allowed. Needless to say, the Twins will need a strong outing from Baker and some more offensive help, even with their big bopper Santana not in the lineup.

9 comments:

Nick N. said...

I bet Perez has 10+ K tonight.

Beau said...

I was really impressed with Santana's plate approach. Very patient, and his swings looked fluid compared to, say, Punto's.

seels58 said...

According to Joe Christensen's column:
UP NEXT

In the series finale tonight, Twins righthander Scott Baker opposes New York lefthander Oliver Perez, who held the Twins to one run in 72/3 innings for Pittsburgh last June.

So I guess they have seen Perez before. I live in Connecticut so I get to see the Mets alot and Perez will be a tough matchup.

Nick M. said...

I see your right. I knew we had seen Pittsburg lately, but I couldn't remember if we had faced Perez. Should have research more. Nonetheless, it only helps support my point about the Twins' bad chances against him.

MetsGrrl said...

The Perez you saw in PGH will not be the same OP you will see at Shea.

That said, great game last night. Painful for me, but you kicked our butts fair and square.

Every time a ball would head towards the center field fence, people in our row would be freaking out and we'd be sitting there, going, "Um, no. Torii Hunter's out there, folks."

I have some great shots of the Twins on my site. < /blatant plug >

Nick M. said...

Hey Metsgrrl -

Nice to see a new face from a different baseball community. Glad for the post. Santana definitely was a different breed, but I'm sure for a Mets fan, you don't particularly care how someone does a four-hit shutout against your team.

Anonymous said...

i'd be interested in knowing..

how many times, if ever... has there been a pitcher who threw a complete game shut-out WITHOUT a strike-out?

Santana was very close.

great post btw, love this blog

(recently transplanted twins fan living in utah)

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