Johan Santana may have forgotten how it felt to lose at the Metrodome following his last start there. He surely doesn’t want to be reminded what back-to-back home defeats are like.
The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner looks to avoid losing consecutive home starts for the first time in nearly two years as the Minnesota Twins (11-8) try for a split of their two-game series against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
In 78 career starts at the Metrodome, Santana is 40-13 with a 2.95 ERA, but he hasn’t lost consecutive outings since May 1 and May 17, 2005, when he fell to the Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively.
Santana (3-1, 3.00 ERA) lost at home for the first time since Aug. 1, 2005, after the Twins lost 4-2 to Tampa Bay on April 13. That ended a streak of 17 straight winning decisions for the left-hander, and Minnesota had been 24-0 when Santana took the mound.
“If it’s over, it’s over. Then we’ll start another one. It’s that simple,” said Santana, who bounced back with a solid road effort Thursday in Seattle. He allowed two runs and four hits through seven innings in the Twins’ 6-5 win.
“Johan was Johan,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Santana, 6-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 14 career starts versus the Indians, will try to help his team rebound once again.Cleveland (8-8) scored four runs in the top of the 12th inning en route to a 7-3 win on Monday.
Relievers Aaron Fultz, Rafael Betancourt and Roberto Hernandez combined to allow one walk with three strikeouts over the final five innings. Cleveland’s bullpen was 24th in the majors with a 4.66 ERA and last with 24 saves in 2006.
“When you bring in guys like Joe (Borowski), Aaron and Roberto, those guys help a lot,” Betancourt said. “Right now we’re in the situation where everybody knows when you’re going to come in the game—and you’ll prepare yourself better.”
Travis Hafner, who scored the go-ahead run on Ryan Garko’s single, went 4-for-4 with two walks and is hitting .390. Hafner, the Indians’ designated hitter, is batting only .130 (3-for-23) against Santana, but two of those hits have been homers.
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta, 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in the series opener, has had virtually no success facing Santana, going 2-for-22 (.091) with 17 strikeouts.
With 14-game winner Cliff Lee soon to return from a strained abdominal muscle, Fausto Carmona (0-1, 6.97) could be making his final start for Cleveland. He cut his ERA by nearly 5 1/2 runs per game after his last start, when he allowed two runs and six hits over six innings of an 8-6 loss to the New York Yankees on Thursday.
“He threw the ball great,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said of Carmona on the team’s official Web site. “He pitched a great ballgame. He was aggressive and used all his stuff.”
The right-hander has made five appearances against the Twins, but struggled in his only start against them on Sept. 15. He walked five over five innings of a 5-4 win in 10 innings.
Twins center fielder Torii Hunter extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a double and a homer Monday. He’s batting .357 (15-for-42) with nine doubles and two homers during his run.