Twins 3, Diamondbacks 1
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Johan Santana knew that no matter how well he pitched in his latest fill-in start, he still wasn’t going to secure a spot in Minnesota’s rotation.
“I just want to win,” Santana said, “and that’s all.”
Minnesota, 7-3 in interleague play, has won three in a row at the Metrodome after five consecutive home losses.
Hunter—the only right-handed hitter in the Twins’ lineup—ended an impressive duel between two talented young pitchers, Santana and Brandon Webb.
Junior Spivey’s sacrifice fly accounted for Arizona’s only run off Santana, who gave up two hits and a walk in seven innings.
“He throws well—his velocity never went down,” Diamondbacks left fielder Luis Gonzalez said. “We didn’t see a lot of good swings.”
Santana struck out seven in the first meeting between these teams and has won each of his three starts this season, yielding only two runs in 18 innings.
“It’s tough to send Johan Santana back to the bullpen,” manager Ron Gardenhire said, “but we are a better team when we can use him four or five times a week instead of this one time a week when he starts.”
Filling in on the second straight turn for Rick Reed, who has an abdominal strain, Santana (4-1) was as smooth as he’s been all year against Arizona’s aggressive swingers—making effective use of his changeup and slider.
“We just didn’t make a lot of noise against him,” Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said. “He was in the strike zone when he wanted to be, and off the plate when he wanted to. We gave him some really easy innings right in the middle, but he pitched well.”
Jacque Jones lost Spivey’s first-inning soft fly to left in the Teflon-coated ceiling for a single that bounced in front of him. After that, Santana retired 14 straight until he hit Tony Womack on the hand with a pitch in the sixth.
But the Twins finally solved Webb in the bottom of the inning and took the lead for good.
Jones and Cristian Guzman hit back-to-back singles with one out. Webb got Corey Koskie to pop out, but rookie Justin Morneau—batting .545 (6-for-11) in his first week in the majors—laced a single between second baseman Spivey and first baseman Lyle Overbay to tie it.
Then Webb left a sinker up, and Hunter hit a hard grounder that sped through the other side of the diamond to drive in Guzman and Morneau and give the Twins a 3-1 lead.
“I was the sacrificial lamb today,” Hunter said, referring to his status as the lone righty. “I was out there to get carved up.
“I was glad he made the mistake. He was nasty.”
Webb turned in his second straight quality start since spending 15 days on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis. Opponents entered the game hitting just .208 against him.
Webb (3-2) gave up six hits, three runs and a walk in six innings—striking out eight.
“It was a tough one for Brandon,” Brenly said. “He pitched great. It was basically groundballs that found holes. You know, it’s the curse of a sinker ball pitcher, especially on AstroTurf.”
LaTroy Hawkins put runners at second and third with one out in the eighth, but he ended the inning by striking out Spivey.
Eddie Guardado pitched the ninth for his 19th save in 20 chances.
“That’s fun baseball,” Gardenhire said.
Guzman, who went 2-for-4, was thrown out stealing by catcher Chad Moeller, although replays contradicted the call by second-base umpire Brian Runge. … Moeller and McCracken are both former Twins. … Reed is expected to return to the rotation on Wednesday at Kansas City. … Hunter’s 40 RBIs are second on the team, one behind A.J. Pierzynski. … Arizona is 1-29 whentrailing after eight innings.