A mediocre first half of the season likely will prevent Johan Santana from winning a second straight Cy Young Award. His performance of late may force the voters to reconsider.
After winning his first Cy Young Award last season with a 20-6 record and a 2.61 ERA, Santana started slowly in 2005 and was just 7-5 with a 3.98 ERA at the All-Star break.
The second half of the season has been a completely different story.
Santana has won six of seven decisions since the break, holding opponents to three earned runs or fewer in all eight starts.
In winning his past three appearances, the left-hander has allowed one run and 12 hits in 25 1-3 innings (0.35 ERA) while walking three and striking out 26.
Texas, however, is one team that Santana has had problems with.
In five career starts against the Rangers, he has surrendered 19 runs and 28 hits in 25 1-3 innings for a 6.75 ERA, his highest against any team.
Minnesota ended a three-game losing streak Saturday with a 4-2 victory, rallying for a run in the top of the ninth against Rangers closer Francisco Cordero before Jacque Jones triggered a five-run 11th with a two-run homer.
The Twins, chasing Cleveland, Oakland and the New York Yankees in the wild-card race, have won seven of nine on the road.
“Every game is huge right now, especially for us,” Twins closer Joe Nathan said. “We’re the ones chasing. It’s almost like we have to win when they win and we have to win when they lose. It doesn’t leave us too much room for error.”
Generating offense has been a problem lately for the Twins.
The five runs they scored in the 11th inning Saturday matched their total during the three-game losing streak. Minnesota’s 2-5 hitters are a combined 3-for-33 in the first two games of this series, and are 9-for-73 (.123) the last five games.
Starting left fielder Shannon Stewart will be absent from the Twins’ lineup again on Sunday. Stewart hasn’t played since straining his left shoulder in a collision with the wall on Tuesday.
“It’s coming along. I have to make sure I can swing without pain,” Stewart said.
Saturday’s loss was the 18th in 25 games for Texas, which had won three of four.
Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira is batting .378 (17-for-45) during a 12-game hitting streak. He has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games.