Santana already has one more victory than any Twins pitcher last season and can become the first Minnesota left-hander to record more than 15 victories since John Smiley went 16-9 in 1992.
“I’m just trying to do my job and have fun every time I go out there and pitch,” said Santana, who had elbow surgery in the offseason. “Stats will take care of themselves as long as you’re healthy. And so far so good.”
Santana, the AL pitcher of the month in August for the second consecutive month, is 8-0 with a 1.68 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break and has won 13 of his last 15 decisions. The 25-year-old Venezuelan defeated Anaheim on Saturday, limiting the league’s top hitting team to one run and four hits over seven innings. He also struck out six as he put an end to the Angels’ nine-game winning streak. Santana increased his league-leading strikeout-total to 213.
“Of course Santana did what he’s been doing for us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. He threw the ball very, very well, and kept a very good hitting team off balance.”
Santana has the AL’s second-best ERA (3.06) behind Oakland’s Tim Hudson (2.84) and is holding teams to a league-low .201 batting average.
The Twins completed a sweep of visiting Texas, capped by Thursday’s 2-0 decision. They have won 12 of their last 17 to stretch their lead in the AL Central to nine games over Cleveland.
Kansas City has scored the fewest runs in the AL (570), and has the second-worst batting average at .259.
The Royals won for just the third time in 11 games following Wednesday’s 1-0 victory. Abraham Nunez, who drove in the run, is batting .467 (7-for-15) with two RBIs in his last four games.