Johan Santana’s chances of winning the AL Cy Young Award are improving with every trip to the mound.
Still insisting he has no interest in personal achievements, the left-hander will try to help the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins bounce back in the middle game of their weekend series with the surging Anaheim Angels.
Santana leads the AL in strikeouts (207), is second in ERA (3.13) and ranks fourth in wins (14).
The 25-year-old Venezuelan hasn’t lost since July 11, going 7-0 with a 1.73 ERA in his last eight starts, including a 7-4 victory at Texas on Monday. He allowed one run, four hits and struck out 11 over eight innings, outpitching Rangers’ 15-game winner Kenny Rogers.
Santana became the first Twins pitcher to record at least 200 strikeouts since Bert Blyleven had 215 in 1986.
“If he keeps pitching like that, he’s got a serious shot,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire of Santana’s Cy Young chances.
Santana, who already has two more victories than his previous career high of 12, established last season, says he is more concerned with the Twins’ postseason run.
“I’m just doing my job,” he said. “If you’re healthy and perform, a lot of things will take care of themselves. Winning will take care of things at the end of the season.”
The two-time defending Central champions dropped the series opener 9-6 on Friday, losing for the third time in four games.
Minnesota’s lead in the Central was reduced to seven games over Cleveland.
The bigger blow, however, was losing third baseman Corey Koskie to a left ankle injury. Koskie injured the ankle while making a tag play in the fourth inning.
The team leader with 22 homers, Koskie was taken to the hospital for X-rays. His status for Saturday’s game was unknown.
The Angels are a game behind first-place Oakland in the AL West and a half-game back of Boston for the wild card.