Santana, a converted reliever, has been a steady force in the Twins’ rotation until recently. After enjoying a 20-game unbeaten streak stretching back to last July, he lost three in a row for the first time since Aug. 6-17, 2002.
The 25-year-old left-hander was pounded for seven runs and 10 hits over a season-low three innings in a 17-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox on May 23. He appeared to bounce back with a solid effort through six innings against Kansas City on Saturday, but relinquished a one-run lead by allowing a home run, a single and a walk in the seventh, suffering a 5-2 defeat.
“When we score some runs, we’re not able to hold a lead,” said Santana. “Then when we’re able to go deep in the game, we’re not scoring runs. You have to be able to do it more consistently.”
The Twins’ struggles at the plate continued in a 4-2 loss to the Devil Rays on Wednesday night. Minnesota, which hit well in the first six weeks of the season, has dropped nine of its last 13 games. Apart from a season-high 16 runs in a win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday, Minnesota’s offense has been held in check.
“We hit some balls hard,” said Twins outfielder Jacque Jones, who had a deep drive to center field caught Wednesday. “I don’t think our hitting coach would be unhappy with our approach at the plate. But you’re not going to win games by just hitting balls hard.”
Jones, the team leader in home runs and RBIs, is just 5-for-47 (.106) with two homers and eight RBIs in his last 12 games.
Rocco Baldelli went 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI and Aubrey Huff drove in two runs for the Devil Rays, who have won nine of their last 13. Huff, who was batting just .186 on May 7, has lifted his average to .263, going 11-for-24 with nine RBIs in his last six games. He has hit safely in 11 straight.