Johan Santana wasted no time bouncing back from his first loss in nearly a year.
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner will look to build off his second career complete game when the Minnesota Twins wrap up their three-game series with the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Santana allowed just six hits in Friday’s 7-1 win over Tampa Bay. The victory came just five days after Santana allowed two earned runs and two hits — both home runs—over eight innings in a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels which snapped his 17-game winning streak that dated to July.
“He can shut a lot of teams down,” manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday. “He always gives you a chance to win, and he didn’t give them much chance to really get into the game. That’s what a good starter does.”
Santana, who is tied for second in the American League with five wins, struck out seven and did not allow a walk. He has lasted at least seven innings in 23 of his last 29 starts, going 23-3 during that stretch.
Santana will square off against Baltimore’s Sidney Ponson, who won his third straight decision on Friday. The 28-year-old right-hander allowed just one earned run and five hits over eight innings in a 3-1 victory over Kansas City.
Ponson, who struck out a season-high eight, already has more wins than he did in the first half of last season, which ended with him 3-12 at All-Star break.
“Last year, he just always seemed to get that one pitch that got him in trouble. This year, he’s the opposite,” Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. “Every time he gets in a jam, it seems he makes the right pitch to get out of it.”
The Orioles are coming off Tuesday’s 6-4, 10-inning loss to the Twins. To make matters worse, Baltimore was forced to put two of its every day players on the disabled list.
Hobbled by a nagging foot injury, Sammy Sosa was put on the 15-day DL during the game. Sosa, who is batting .269 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 27 games, has not played since last Wednesday because of an abscess and staph infection on the bottom of his left foot.
Luis Matos was hit by a pitch and broke his right ring finger in the eighth inning and will be placed on the DL. He is expected to miss six weeks.
“We’re going to have to pull our straps up. You lose two starting players, what’s the alternative?” Mazzilli said. “We’re going to fight it and grind it out, that’s for sure. I guarantee you that.”
Pinch-hitter Jacque Jones and Shannon Stewart homered on consecutive pitches in the 10th to lead the Twins to their 10th victory in 14 games. Javy Lopez, Rafael Palmeiro and Brian Roberts each homered for the Orioles, who scored all their runs on homers off starter Brad Radke.