This is what the ESPN.com main page had written about the Twins loss last night. For some reason, when a two-time Cy Young award winning pitcher goes eight innings, gives up five hits and three runs while walking one and striking out seven, it qualifies as getting "ripped." For those counting, those numbers amount to a 3.38 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP. Not too shabby. Of course, headlines like that only add to the ridiculous notion that Santana is having some kind of down year and that he isn't in the Cy Young race with Dan Haren, John Lackey, and C.C. Sabbathia.
What is more unfortunate, though, is that Santana did pitch so well without picking up a win. His only mistakes came against Magglio Ordonez, who came into the game hitting .400/.435/.850 against Santana in 40 career at-bats. Just like on Tuesday, the Twins offensive motor seemed to be in perpetual first gear. Sure, they got a few runs, but not enough and they never really got going. The offense left a total of 14 men on and a total of seven runners in scoring position with two outs. Consider that the Twins had 10 hits, four more than the Tigers, but managed only two runs (neither of which was actually driven in on a hit). They also walked four times against Tigers starter Andrew Miller, whose wildness granted one of the Twins runs when Justin Morneau was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Who were the main culprits? For one, Joe Mauer and Morneau, the Twins' biggest bats, went a combined 1-for-9 with while leaving 11 men on together, helping to make Michael Cuddyer's 4-for-4 performance go widely unnoticed. Additionally, Lew Ford, making the start in place of the beleaguered Jason Kubel, went 0-for-4 and left seven men on base. He is now hitting only .237/.308/.351 on the season and is hitting .167 (2-for-16) in July so far. After what was a good June, Ford has gone right back to being a pumpkin. Kubel didn't fare better, as he replaced Torii Hunter after his injury and subsequently struck out in his only at-bat, a very important one that saw the bases loaded with two outs. Kubel has been absolutely atrocious as of late, going hitless in his last 15 at-bats since his big performance in the double-header against Chicago before the break. He spent his one at-bat staring at three strikes in what can only be described as a pathetic and depressing attempt at hitting. Lastly, it certainly doesn't help the Twins cause that their last two hopes with Cuddyer on in the ninth were Jason Tyner and Garrett Jones. But Tyner is a battler, right John Gordon?
Losing these two key games essentially puts the Twins out of the division race, as they are now eight games back of a team that looks like the best in the American League. The good news for Twins fans is that they still might have a shot at the Wild Card, which they are six games back from after a Cleveland loss yesterday. If they want that shot, games like last night's can't happen again. The Twins can't afford to lose when Santana hands them pitching gems. However, if you listen to ESPN, he got ripped with the rest of them anyway.