Johan Santana did a lot things right in last night's close victory over the Cleveland Indians. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, he struck out 12 in seven innings of work, and his only real mistake was allowing a two-run home run to Travis Hafner. All things considered, he should have been lined up for the victory, but Twins fans by now have probably learned just how hard Santana has to work to avoid a loss, let alone get a victory, with the pathetic Twins offense.
Based on basic numbers, the Twins' 7-9 hitters going 2-for-11 wouldn't seem out of the ordinary, but rather keeping with their inability to do anything since the break. However, there was one big surprise that Twins fans have been seemingly waiting for since 2005: Jason Tyner hit what was likely his only home run of his career, just getting it over the wall and forever embarrassing Jake Westbrook, a pitcher whom the Twins should have knocked around anyway. Not surprisngly, Tyner's power display (he had a double as well) accounted for most of the Twins offense, as they managed a total of five hits, with Justin Morneau picking up an RBI single, Jason Bartlett going 1-for-4, and Torii Hunter getting a double in the ninth that set up Brian Buscher's game-winning RBI groundout.
Outside of that, the Twins offense was its usual awful self, picking up three walks, but doing little to nothing to support yet another pitching gem from Santana. It's very sad that Santana is on pace for a 17-12 record, considering his 2.92 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 156 Ks (to 35 walks), and .212 BAA. The eight losses are already a career-high for Santana and the only way he won't set a career-high in home runs will be if he allows only one home run the rest of the season. It's feeling a lot more like 2005, when Santana pitched well, but ended up with only 16 wins and saw his rightful Cy Young end up in the hands of the now washed up Bartolo Colon. That year the Twins offense couldn't do much against terrible pitchers like Westbrook, just like they can't now.
The Twins did pull out a win, but it simply wasn't a very convincing one, as it depended wholly on the Twins pitching combined with a power streak that will never return. I'd like to hope that luck is in their favor today as well, but C.C. Sabathia is a significantly better pitcher than Westbrook and he's also had a fair amount of success against the Twins. Here's to Matt Garza pitching another gem and improving that 1-2 record that covers up a sparkling 1.33 ERA. Sound familiar?