After expressing frustration over his lack of run support in recent starts, Santana was the beneficiary in Tuesday’s 9-0 rout by the Twins (35-34). They staked the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner to a five-run lead in the second inning, and he took care of the rest by throwing a four-hitter in an efficient 92-pitch outing.
“Johan deserved that, and our offense needed that,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They were swinging early in the count. Those guys were up there taking their rips against him and that got him deeper and deeper in the game.”
The nine runs were Minnesota’s most in a road game since an 11-3 victory at Detroit on April 28. The Twins now have a chance to win their first series away from home since taking two of three at Texas from May 21-23.
Baker (1-2, 7.33) may be pitching for his spot in the rotation. After allowing five runs over 13 2-3 innings in his first two starts, he is 0-2 with an 11.48 ERA in his last three - giving up 17 runs and 25 hits in 13 1-3 innings.
The right-hander was reached for six runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings Friday, taking the loss in an 11-3 defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers. The outing was enough for Gardenhire to serve notice Baker may be on borrowed time as a starter.
“We’ve pretty much gone through our system here,” Gardenhire said Friday. “We don’t have that many options. We’ve got (Matt) Garza down (in Triple-A) who we think is getting pretty close, and guys like that. We’ll have to sit back and think about it.”
Baker is 2-1 in three lifetime interleague starts, all against the Brewers.
As well as The Mets (38-31) played in Monday’s series-opening 8-1 victory, they played just as poorly Tuesday. New York, which has lost 14 of its last 19 games, committed a season-high four errors after making just 30 in the previous 68 contests.
“When you play sloppy defense, you don’t give yourself a chance to win,” said third baseman David Wright, who made two of the four miscues. “With the big lead, (Santana) challenged us, let us hit it to the big part of the ballpark.”
Oliver Perez (7-5, 2.93) seeks to win consecutive starts for the first time since reeling off three in a row from May 13-23. He scattered five hits and three walks in 7 1-3 innings of a 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday for his first win since May 23.
Perez has not allowed more than three runs in any of his seven starts at home, and is 2-1 in three interleague outings in 2007. He lost his only career start against the Twins, allowing four runs - one earned - in 7 2-3 innings of an 8-2 defeat June 18 last season while pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Twins reserve infielder Jeff Cirillo may get another start after going 3-for-5 with an RBI on Tuesday. He’s 6-for-9 in his last two games after batting just .207 (17-for-82) in his first 24 games.
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes carries a 10-game hitting streak into this contest, during which he is batting .375 (15-for-40).