The Twins (11-6) may not have expected much from Ortiz, who joined his fourth team in as many years after signing a $3.1 million, one-year contract on Jan. 22. He wasn’t in high demand on the free-agent market after going 11-16 with a 5.57 ERA in 33 starts for Washington in 2006.
Ortiz, though, has been very effective in his first three starts with Minnesota. Besides being among the major league leaders in wins, Ortiz’s 2.05 ERA is nearly a run better than Santana’s. The right-hander limited Seattle to two runs and eight hits over seven innings Tuesday in an 11-2 victory.
Excellent control has been the key to Ortiz’s success. He has walked only two batters in 22 innings this season.
“I throw strikes. That’s what I do,” Ortiz said.
But Ortiz has never performed well against the Royals, going 3-4 with a 7.09 ERA in eight starts. He has allowed 11 home runs in 47 innings against them.
Minnesota rebounded from an 11-7 loss in Friday’s series opener by recording a season-high 16 hits Saturday in a 7-5 victory. Backup catcher Mike Redmond had three run-scoring singles for the Twins, winners of four of five overall.
“Red Dog can hit,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Redmond. “That’s what he did all of last year. He uses the whole field. He shoots the ball the other way as good as anybody. He can pull the ball when he needs to.”
Minnesota also has won four of its last five games in Kansas City, averaging 9.2 runs in that span.
Joe Mauer, inserted into the lineup as a designated hitter, had two hits Saturday, and is 10-for-20 with eight RBIs in his last six games. He is batting .351 (46-for-131) in 37 career games against the Royals.
“I figure I’d give him (Castillo) a couple of days and see if it starts getting better,” Gardenhire said on the team’s official Web site. “If it doesn’t get better by the time we get home, we might have to do something.”
Alex Gordon and Mark Teahen hit solo homers for the Royals (5-12), who were coming off consecutive wins for the first time this season. Kansas City has allowed six runs or more in six of the last seven games.
Jorge De Le Rosa (1-1, 4.34) makes his fourth start of the season for the Royals. The left-hander did not receive a decision in Kansas City’s 7-6 loss at Detroit on Tuesday after allowing five runs and eight hits, including two homers, in six innings.
De La Rosa has been hit hard in three career starts against the Twins, going 0-3 with a 7.36 ERA while walking 13 and striking out eight.