Johan Santana has been nothing but a solid contributor out of Minnesota’s bullpen this season. As a starter, he’s been even better.
Santana looks to remain unbeaten as a starter this season when he pitches the opener of a three-game set against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Venezuelan left-hander was 1-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 18 relief appearances before taking the rotation spot of injured Rick Reed. Santana, who will return to the bullpen when Reed comes off the disabled list on Tuesday, is 2-0 with an 0.82 ERA in two starts.
In Saturday’s 6-2 win at San Diego, Santana limited the Padres to an earned run and three hits over six innings. He also struck out seven.
“Santana was very good,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We know that he can do those things. It’s a lift for your baseball team when he goes out and does what he did. It gives you a chance to score some runs.”
The Twins come in after taking two of three from visiting Colorado, including a 15-3 win on Thursday.
A.J. Pierzynski hit his second career grand slam and a three-run homer as Minnesota, which scored seven runs in the first inning, won for the fifth time in its last seven.
Pierzynski finished 3-for-4 and is batting .336 with six homers and 31 RBIs over his last 30 games.
Arizona split the first two games of its three-game set with Kansas City, but Thursday’s finale was rained out. The Diamondbacks were leading 4-1 in the third.
The Diamondbacks, winners of three of their last four, are kicking off a stretch in which they play 33 of their next 49 on the road.
STANDINGS: Diamondbacks - 4th place, 10 GB, NL West. Twins - 1st place, AL Central.
DIAMONDBACKS PROBABLE STARTER: Brandon Webb (3-1, 2.20 ERA). After being on the DL with tendinitis near his right elbow, Webb returned Sunday and gave up two earned runs and five hits while striking out six over seven innings in a 13-3 victory over Cleveland. The rookie right-hander has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any of his seven starts this season. Arizona is 5-2 in those outings.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Santana (3-1, 2.49 ERA). Santana, who was 8-6 with a 2.99 ERA in 27 games, including 14 starts, last season, has never faced Arizona.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Diamondbacks - Luis Gonzalez, .309 avg., 13 HRs, 42 RBIs and 42 runs; Craig Counsell and Tony Womack, 5 SBs. Twins - Jacque Jones, .312 avg. and 39 runs; Torii Hunter, 9 HRs; Pierzynski, 41 RBIs; Jones and Corey Koskie, 6 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Diamondbacks - 5-3. Twins - 6-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Diamondbacks - Matt Williams, an original Diamondback, retired Thursday after being released by the team on June 1. The third baseman finished his 17-year career with 1,218 RBIs, 7,000 at-bats and as a five-time All-Star. … No makeup date was set for Arizona’s rained out game Thursday against Kansas City. … CF Steve Finley was the DH Thursday after missing six games with a right hamstring problem. Twins - C Pierzynski’s previous grand slam came May 7 against Tampa Bay. It’s the first time the Twins have had a player hit more than one grand slam in a season since Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett hit two in 1993. … SS Cristian Guzman hit his 52nd career triple Thursday, moving him into fourth place on the Twins’ all-time list. … The Twins’ record for most runs in the first inning is 11 against Cleveland in 1962.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Diamondbacks - 13-16 on the road; Twins - 17-15 at home.
INJURIES: Diamondbacks - OF David Dellucci (concussion), 15-day DL; LHP Randy Johnson (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Koplove (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Mantei (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Curt Schilling (hand), 15-day DL; RHP Bret Prinz (groin), 60-day DL; INF Craig Counsell (thumb), 60-day DL. Twins - INF Chris Gomez (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Reed (back), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL.