Not many people knew of Johan Santana before this season. He’s changed all of that in a hurry.
Santana allowed just seven hits in eight innings, striking out a career-high 14 in Sunday’s 5-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. His 12th straight winning decision matched the team record set by Scott Erickson in 1991 and matched by Brad Radke in 1997.
Santana is 12-0 with a 1.16 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break and has not allowed a run in his last 30 innings. He was named the AL player of the week for Sept. 13-19 after going 2-0 with a league-high 21 strikeouts, and has already earned July and August AL pitcher of the month honors.
“His changeup was good, his slider was nasty and his fastball was absolutely as good as I’ve seen it,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Santana’s 254 strikeouts and his 2.65 ERA lead the league, and he is just one victory shy of AL leader Curt Schilling’s 20. He needs just four strikeouts to match Bert Blyleven’s 1973 team record.
“It’s always good to be part of history,” he said. “But I’m just doing my job and having fun with the things that I do. Everything is going pretty good, not just for me but the team. Hopefully we can make history from now on.”
Santana is vying to become the first Venezuelan to win the Cy Young Award. His biggest competition appears to be Schilling, who is 20-6 with a 3.28 ERA.
“That would be the greatest thing ever for my country,” Santana said.
The Indians beat the Twins 9-7 on Thursday for their third straight victory. Josh Bard hit his first homer since last Sept. 20, and rookie Grady Sizemore added a homer for Cleveland, which is hoping for a .500 season and a second-place finish in the AL Central.
“We’ve got to finish strong,” first baseman Ben Broussard said. “You don’t want to end on a bad note.”