Johan Santana is used to achieving milestones at the Metrodome, where he has been dominant during his career. Now he’s doing his best to avoid a very different kind of mark.
The Minnesota ace tries to avoid losing his third consecutive home start for the first time in his career as the Twins continue their three-game series with the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.
Santana (3-2, 3.60 ERA) is 42-14 with a 2.98 ERA in 79 career starts at the Metrodome and went 17-0 in 24 consecutive starts there from Aug. 6, 2005-April 2, 2007. He has dropped back-to-back outings since then, however, allowing eight runs and 12 hits through 14 innings.
Despite never losing three straight starts at home, Santana has dropped three decisions in a row there, going 0-3 with a 4.40 ERA in six starts from May 1-June 19, 2005. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner hasn’t been his best versus the Red Sox, who own the top record in the majors at 19-9 and are going for their fourth straight win.
Santana is 3-4 with a 3.55 ERA in 11 lifetime games against them, including eight starts, and the four losses are his second most versus any opponent. He failed to receive a decision on Sunday when he gave up three runs and a season-high eight hits - including two homers - over six innings in a 4-3 defeat to Detroit.
“They battled every single at-bat and made me throw a lot of pitches,” said Santana, who threw 80 of his season-high 114 pitches for strikes. “I made a couple mistakes - a couple sliders that didn’t break.”
Santana will try to help the Twins (15-14) avoid tying their season-high, four-game losing streak set April 22-25. After totaling 42 hits in its previous three games, Minnesota mustered only four in a 2-0 loss to Boston in Friday’s series opener.
Boston’s David Ortiz hit his 200th career homer as a designated hitter in the sixth inning, tying him with Chili Davis for sixth all-time. Ortiz, who played his first six seasons with the Twins, is batting .351 against his former team.
The Red Sox have won have seven of their last eight on the road and are trying to take their first series in Minnesota since a four-game sweep in 2000. Julian Tavarez (1-2, 7.58) takes the mound for Boston, coming off his first win of the season.
The veteran right-hander allowed three runs and three hits over five innings in a 7-4 win over the New York Yankees on Sunday.
“I think today was one of the very, very important starts for me,” said Tavarez, who is 2-2 with a 5.26 ERA in 16 career games, including four starts, versus the Twins. “I felt it was like the last start of my life.”
This could be one of his last for awhile as Tavarez is expected to eventually be replaced by Jon Lester, who is making his return from cancer and will join the team in Minneapolis on Saturday to continue his workouts. Tavarez will try to slow Twins center fielder Torii Hunter, who is riding a career-high 19-game hitting streak while batting .380 with five homers, 11 doubles and 17 RBIs during that span.
Minnesota is again expected to be without right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who has missed three straight games with a bruised back.