The Minnesota Twins have the right man on the mound to help them avoid being swept in a series for the first time in 2 1/2 months.
Twins pitchers have been ripped for 23 runs in losing the first two games of this series, putting the team at risk of being swept for the first time since dropping three straight to the Chicago White Sox from June 29-July 1.
“We’re not worried that we’re gagging or anything,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “We’re a pretty good baseball team.”
Minnesota’s magic number to clinch a third straight AL Central title remains at three, as the second-place Chicago White Sox beat Detroit 9-8 in 12 innings Saturday.
Santana has thrown 22 consecutive scoreless innings, last giving up a run in the sixth inning of a 7-1 win at Anaheim on Aug. 28. The team record for not allowing a run is 30 1-3 straight innings, set by Frank Viola in 1988 and matched by Scott Erickson in 1991.
Santana has won 10 straight starts and is 11-0 since losing to Detroit on July 11. The left-hander is one shy of the club mark for most consecutive victories since it moved to Minnesota in 1961, a mark set by Erickson in 1991 and tied by Brad Radke in 1997.
Santana is 16-2 in 19 starts since June 9 with 179 strikeouts and 62 hits allowed in 140 1-3 innings. He allowed two hits and struck out seven in seven scoreless innings of Tuesday’s 10-2 victory over the White Sox.
“To me, he’s the Cy Young winner,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “No doubt about it, he deserves it.”
Santana leads the AL in ERA and strikeouts (240), and trails only Boston’s Curt Schilling (20) for the league lead in victories.
One bright spot from Minnesota’s 12-3 loss Saturday was the return of third baseman Corey Koskie, who hit a two-run homer in his first game after missing three weeks with an ankle injury.
“I worked hard in the offseason to get in shape,” said Tejada, who is hitting .306. “If I break the record, I’ll be happy to see it. What I most want to do is hit .300.”
The Orioles offense has come alive, scoring 32 runs in winning the last three games.
A win Sunday would give Baltimore its second sweep in its last 12 series.