Monday, August 20, 2007

Santana's Sweet Seventeen

Even in a lost season, which this one very much appears to be, sometimes events take place that lift our spirits and remind us why we still watch the games. Johan Santana's performance in yesterday's game at the Metrodome was one of those events.

Santana was dominant in every sense of the word, setting a franchise record with 17 strikeouts over eight innings. He also allowed no runs and just two hits, propelling the Twins to a 1-0 victory over the Rangers. Santana had a chance to tie the major-league record for strikeouts in a game; if he had gone back out to pitch the ninth and struck out the side he would have finished with 20. Yet, with Santana's pitch count at 115 and the Twins leading by just one run, Ron Gardenhire made the decision to go with Joe Nathan for the ninth. It wasn't a popular decision in the Metrodome stands, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in seeing what Santana could do with one more inning, but I can't argue with Gardy's choice. Since the beginning of July, Nathan had a 0.96 ERA and a 0.59 WHIP over 18 2/3 innings, so he was a good bet to deliver. And, after an error and a stolen base put a runner on second with one out, the Twins' closer slammed the door with back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.

It's a good thing for the Twins that Santana was so amazing, because it will divert the criticism of their offense, which capped off an atrocious series with a brutally bad effort against a pitcher they should have hit (and have hit in the past). Kevin Millwood combined with reliever C.J. Wilson to hold the Twins scoreless outside of a solo homer from Michael Cuddyer in the second. The Twins drew six walks in the game, but were unable to push a single one across the plate. They were extremely fortunate to come away with two victories in a series in which they scored a total of three runs and went 0-for-19 with runners in scoring position. These hitters have been completely rotten and they are showing no signs of improvement, which is pretty depressing.

The Indians and Tigers both lost yesterday, continuing both teams' stretches of unimpressive play since the All-Star break. Unfortunately, even with the losses, the Twins still sit 6 games out in the AL Central. The offense's continued ineptitude has prevented the Twins from being able to make up any significant ground in the standings. Because of that, yesterday's magnificient performance by Santana ends up being a brilliant moment in the great career of one of the best pitchers of our era, and a frustrating reminder of how good this team could be if they could score runs.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

"At times I felt I got lucky. I threw some bad pitches that they just missed," Millwood said.

That is a perfect summary of the Twins hitting since the All Star break. Facts are so depressing: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/
stats/aggregate?sort=runs&split=
182&group=9&season=2007&seasonType
=2&statType=batting&type=reg

Santana might even ask for a trade this winter.

Andersklasen said...

I can't lie, I want Santana forever. But I can't see how bad it would be to get a whole farm system and a few great players in return if we trade him.

Sean Schulte said...

I don't even want to find out how much we'd get for him, but I doubt it'd be that much.

Baseball is becoming much more like football in that respect these days. If you're going to trade for somebody, you're better off waiting and then picking him up in free agency. Unless we do sign Johan, we won't be trading him.

Matthew said...

That was an incredible performance and you hit the nail on the head about taking the focus away from the Twins abysmal hitting.

I'm just glad I was able to share watching that with my daughter.

Nick N. said...

Baseball is becoming much more like football in that respect these days. If you're going to trade for somebody, you're better off waiting and then picking him up in free agency. Unless we do sign Johan, we won't be trading him.

Seeing what the Rangers got for Teixeira gives me some optimism about what the Twins could get for Santana. Jarrod Saltalamaccia is the top catching prospect in baseball, Elvis Andrus is considered one of the better young SS prospects, and they also got two good pitching prospects. If that type of prospect package can be attained for one of the top five first basemen in the league, you have to wonder what could be gotten for the very best pitcher in the league.

Corey Ettinger said...

Maybe its a good thing we missed this game.

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