Minnesota starter Johan Santana caught fire after last season’s All-Star break. He’s hoping the same will happen this year.
Santana looks to snap a three-decision losing streak as the Twins continue their four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels at the Metrodome.
Santana allowed six earned runs and a season high-tying nine hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-6 defeat to the Angels on July 6. The All-Star left-hander is winless in his last five starts and has not won since June 8 at Arizona.
“You expect him to go out there and pitch a lot better than he did today, but that’s how spoiled we are,” center fielder Torii Hunter said. “But he’s human and he’s going to make some mistakes. I think he was kind of fatigued today. You could tell his game was just a little off.”
Santana has allowed 18 earned runs in 24 innings over his last four starts.
“Tough day,” he said. “It seemed like every time they hit the ball, they hit it to the right spot. Today’s game showed you don’t have to hit the ball real hard in order to get some base hits. That’s the way it is.”
Santana, who leads the majors with 143 strikeouts, entered last season’s All-Star break 7-6 with a 3.78 ERA and 136 strikeouts. However, he went 13-0 in the second half and earned the AL Cy Young Award.
“I feel much better than what I felt compared to last year at this point,” Santana said. “Still, I have to make some adjustments and put everything together and then be more aggressive when I go out there.”
Santana will face the Angels’ Bartolo Colon, who lost for just the second time in nine decisions on July 7, allowing a season-high seven earned runs and seven hits in six innings of a 10-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners. Colon, who was also named an All-Star this season, was 6-8 with 6.38 ERA before the All-Star break last season.
“I got hit hard,” Colon said. “Those walks. I am still mad at myself for not getting into pitcher’s counts and finishing them off.”
The Angels beat the Twins 3-2 on Friday for their second straight win since a four-game losing streak. Darin Erstad had two hits, two runs and an RBI for Los Angeles, which has notched five one-run wins against Minnesota this season.
The Angels matched a season high with their fifth straight win on the road.
“They play the same kind of game we do,” said Angels catcher Bengie Molina, who drove in a run with a two-out double in the fourth. “And that’s why you see all the one-run games.”
Shannon Stewart drove in two runs for the Twins, who have lost six of eight.