With the reigning AL MVP in the hospital, it’s nice to be able to turn to the defending Cy Young Award winner for a lift.
Santana (7-6, 2.91 ERA) has won the AL Cy Young Award in two of the last three seasons, but Tuesday at the New York Mets he accomplished something he didn’t do in all of 2006 - pitch a shutout.
The left-hander needed only 92 pitches to go the distance in Minnesota’s 9-0 victory, giving up four hits without a walk. He didn’t strike out a batter, but enjoyed the generous run support after the Twins (37-35) had scored only three runs for him over his previous three outings.
“Johan deserved that, and our offense needed that,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said after Santana’s first shutout since Aug. 12, 2005. “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.”
Santana improved to 15-4 with a 2.29 ERA in 34 career interleague appearances, including 23 starts. He won his only other start against the Marlins, a 12-7 victory in Minnesota on June 7, 2002, in which he gave up one run over 5 1-3 innings.
He may need to be at the top of his game again Sunday, as Twins first baseman Justin Morneau will miss his second straight contest after bruising his right lung in a home-plate collision with Florida catcher Miguel Olivo in Friday’s series opener.
The 2006 AL MVP, whose 20 homers this season rank second in the league, was scheduled to undergo additional X-rays and tests at the hospital Sunday as a precaution before flying home along with the team.
Saturday’s contest snapped Morneau’s consecutive games played streak at 191.
“It wasn’t the easiest lineup I’ve tried to figure out, without his name batting fourth or fifth,” Gardenhire said. “It’s going to be different obviously for a few days.”
At least for one day, the Twins picked up the slack, totaling 17 hits in an 11-1 rout of the Marlins (36-39). Catcher Joe Mauer and shortstop Jason Bartlett each had three RBIs to help Minnesota bounce back from a 5-4 defeat on Friday. Carlos Silva threw seven innings and reaped the generous run support to earn the win.
“I had a lot of support, but you still can see that big hole when we don’t have Morneau in the lineup,” Silva said. “I hope he gets well very soon, because that’s a guy we’re going to need.”
It was the most lopsided defeat of the season for the Marlins, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end. Florida needs to win Sunday to avoid losing its fourth consecutive home series.
“The good thing is nobody got hurt,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Marlins starter Byung-Hyun Kim (3-3, 5.22) will try to end his struggles at home. Since joining Florida last month, the right-hander is 0-1 with a 7.24 ERA in three starts at Dolphin Stadium. He suffered the loss on June 13 against Cleveland, when he allowed four runs - one earned - over 5 2-3 innings of a 7-3 defeat.
Kim’s only appearance since then came in relief Monday at the Chicago White Sox. He gave up two runs, four hits and a walk in 2 2-3 innings and did not factor in the decision.
The Twins are the only major league team Kim has never faced.