Minnesota (62-51) at Seattle (43-70)

  • Game info: 4:35 pm EDT Thu Aug 12, 2004
  • TV: FSNO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Johan Santana has been pitching like a Cy Young candidate for the past two months. But the 25-year-old left-hander insists the award is the farthest thing from his mind.

“I don’t really think about it,” he said. “If one day I have a chance to win one that would be cool … right now I’m just having fun, trying to win games and make it to the playoffs.”

With his team’s lead in the AL Central down to three games and a series with second-place Cleveland looming this weekend, Santana will try to help the Twins avoid a three-game sweep to the lowly Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Santana, who was 2-4 with a 5.50 ERA in his first 12 starts this season, has emerged as the Twins’ ace over the last two months.

The Venezuelan southpaw is 9-2 with a 1.70 ERA over his last 12 starts, including Sunday’s 4-3 home victory over Tim Hudson and the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics. Santana went 6 1-3 innings, giving up seven hits and striking out 10. He reached double digits in strikeouts for the eighth time in his last 10 starts, increasing his AL-leading total to 183.

“I think everything right now is working very good for me,” said Santana, the reigning AL pitcher of the month for July. “I’m just doing my job. Whatever they ask me to do.”

The Twins, vying for their third straight division title, saw their lead over the surging Indians shrink to three games after a 4-3 loss Wednesday, coupled with Cleveland’s 3-2 win over Toronto.

The Twins lost their fourth in a row and sixth in seven games.

The last-place Mariners won for the fourth time in six games, and have taken four of five from the Twins at Safeco this season.

Ichiro Suzuki went 2-for-4 to break the major league record for most hits in his first four seasons at 841. Hall of Famer Paul “Big Poison” Waner set the record of 840 when he played with Pittsburgh from 1926-29.

Bret Boone went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to a career high-tying 15 games. Boone, who also had a 15-game hitting streak from May 24 to June 10, 2003, is batting .328 (21-for-64) during his run with four doubles and six RBIs.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Santana TOR vs. R. Franklin STL
20-6 Record 4-16
2.61 ERA 4.90
265 K 104
54 BB 61
0.92 WHIP 1.42