The 24-year-old left-hander looks to win his fifth straight decision as the Twins continue their three-game series with the Texas Rangers at The Ballpark in Arlington.
Santana improved to 4-0 with a 1.25 ERA in his five August starts with Sunday’s 8-1 win over the Kansas City Royals. He yielded one run and six hits over six innings, striking out 10 for the second straight game and walking two.
“I always do the things they ask me to do,” said Santana, who has lasted eight innings in three of his five outings this month. “Now that I’m in the starting rotation, I want to stay there for the rest of my career.”
Moved into the rotation full-time on July 11, Santana is 7-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 12 starts after opening the season as the Twins’ main left-handed reliever.
“I love seeing that dude pitch,” Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said. “When he goes out there, you know he’s going to put on a good performance, especially if he’s throwing strikes and has his change-up and fastball working.”
Minnesota closed to within a half-game of AL Central-leading Kansas City and Chicago with Friday’s 8-5 win. Doug Mientkiewicz had four hits and Shannon Stewart drove in two runs for the Twins, who have won nine of 13.
The Royals were beaten 10-3 by Anaheim and the White Sox fell 8-4 to Detroit.
Texas learned Friday that outfielder Juan Gonzalez will likely be out for the remainder of the season because of a lingering right calf injury, team physician Dr. John Conway said.
Gonzalez has been out since July 23, and Rangers general manager John Hart on Thursday questioned the slugger’s willingness to play through the injury— called a strain by the team.
But Conway described the injury as “a tear.”
“That’s what a strain really is,” he said. “It’s unlikely he’s going to play again this year.”
STANDINGS: Twins - 3rd place, 1/2 GB, AL Central. Rangers - 4th place, 19 GB, AL West.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Santana (8-3, 2.85 ERA). Santana is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in two career starts against the Rangers.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Mickey Callaway (1-4, 6.81 ERA). Callaway will be promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma to make his first appearance since Anaheim designated him for assignment on July 29. The right-hander was 1-2 with a 4.43 ERA in four starts for the Angels but vastly improved after being sent to the minors. He was 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 appearances with the RedHawks.
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 3-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Twins - OF Stewart is hitting .348 (62-for-178) since Minnesota acquired him from Toronto on July 17, with six homers, 23 RBIs and 30 runs scored. … 2B Luis Rivas is hitting .309 (17-for-55) over his last 14 games with four doubles, a triple, four homers, 11 RBIs and 13 runs scored. … OF Corey Koskie missed his fourth straight game Friday while he continues to deal with family health issues. His status for Saturday’s game is undetermined. Rangers - Texas has won 11 of its last 13 at home. … SS Rodriquez needs one homer to become just the second player in major league history to hit 40 homers in at least six straight seasons. Babe Ruth accomplished the feat in seven consecutive seasons from 1926-32. … 1B-DH Rafael Palmeiro is hitting .344 (32-for-93) this month with 23 RBIs.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Twins - 35-32 on the road; Rangers - 35-31 at home.
INJURIES: Twins - OF Lew Ford (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Rick Reed (back), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (elbow), 60-day DL. Rangers - OF Gonzalez (calf), 15-day DL; OF Kevin Mench (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (rib cage, oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Ricardo Rodriguez (hip), 60-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL.
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