Over the course of last night's game, the Twins eventually scored 11 runs. Before that, their most impressive feat came with five walks and six runs against young gun Justin Verlander. After facing a similar pitcher the day before in A.J. Burnett, the Twins were prepared to employ a strategy of patience. The best example of this was in the set up to Joe Mauer's grand slam, as Jason Tyner (!), Luis Castillo, and Jason Bartlett all walked in front of him to set up the big blast.
The fact that the Twins managed to walk against Verlander isn't impressive on its face, as Verlander has walked 39 hitters in his 102 innings this year. What's impressive is that, considering how good Verlander has been this year, the Twins managed to score six times against him and force him out of the game after five innings. In his previous four outings, including his no-hitter, Verlander gave up only 16 hits and four runs in 28 innings while striking out 35. Clearly, managing six runs against him was a high feat for the Twins offense and Mauer's home run was the obvious standout play.
The great news is that all of this offense came in support of Johan Santana, who picked up his ninth win. Santana wasn't great yesterday, as he did not consistently have control of his dominant changeup and was forced to live off the fastball, but he still managed six strikeouts in six innings while giving up only one run and one walk and lowering his ERA to 2.76. It's too bad that he gave up a home run to Placido Polanco, who is an overrated player in many circles (especially by Dick and Bert, who tried to compare him to Edgar Martinez in a moment of classic FSN broadcoast ignorance). Polanco hits for a good average and is a solid player in the field, but lacks any power or speed to make him a potent force.
With last night's start, Santana ends a very good June, in which he had a 1.98 ERA with 33 Ks in 41 innings. He had only a 3-2 record, evidence of his lack of run support that was alleviated in fine fashion last night. With a 9-6 record, a 2.76 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, and 120 strikeouts, Santana is on his way to competing for another Cy Young. He'll just have to compete with thus far amazing Dan Haren for the rest of the way.
* On a final note, I'll once again remind everyone that the Twins fan gathering is today at 2:30 at Park Tavern in St. Louis Park. We'll be getting together to enjoy the young pitching match-up of Andrew Miller and Kevin Slowey.