Minnesota starter Johan Santana has been unbeatable since last July.
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner looks to win his 17th straight decision as the Twins open a two-game series with the Kansas City Royals at the Metrodome.
Santana allowed just two earned runs and six hits in six innings of Friday’s 3-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians. The Venezuelan left-hander became the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 2001 to win 16 straight decisions and has not lost since July 11.
Santana’s stretch spans 20 starts, including two playoff outings against the New York Yankees. He has won each of his three outings this season, even though his pitches didn’t look quite as sharp as usual Friday.
“Good pitchers find a way to win,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, “and that’s what he did.”
Santana allowed two solo homers in the second inning, but settled down to improve to 21-2 over his last 25 starts. He did not win his third game until mid-May last season, but said that he isn’t focusing on 2004.
“Last year was last year,” Santana said. “This is the beginning of 2005. It’s a new year.”
The Twins lost 3-1 to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday for their third straight defeat since a six-game winning streak. Jacque Jones and Shannon Stewart combined for six of Minnesota’s 14 hits—12 of which were singles. Minnesota grounded into three double plays.
“We just couldn’t come up with another big hit, just like last night,” Gardenhire said.
The Royals beat the Indians 6-5 on Tuesday as backup catcher Alberto Castillo delivered a game-winning solo homer in the ninth. Castillo also had two singles, scored three runs and got his first stolen base since 2001.
Mike Sweeney added three hits and an RBI for the Royals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Kansas City had 15 hits but stranded 13 runners in winning for just the second time in eight home games.