Santana shuts down White Sox
Yahoo! Sports: AL Wild Card on the line
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Ron Gardenhire isn’t a huge fan of hip hop, and he probably wouldn’t recognize Daddy Yankee if the Puerto Rican rapper came up and shook the Twins manager’s hand.
But Gardenhire has learned to love “Gasolina.”
Johan Santana blares the tune before every home start he makes, and a Twins win is sure to follow.
Santana held the White Sox offense to one run in seven innings and Michael Cuddyer had two hits and two RBIs in Minnesota’s 7-3 victory over the White Sox on Sunday, cutting Chicago’s lead to one game in the AL wild-card race.
“That’s a song we love to hear,” Gardenhire said Sunday morning when the bass beat started bumping in the clubhouse. “That means Santana is pitching.”
Santana (15-5) hasn’t lost at the Metrodome in 20 starts, dating to Aug. 6, 2005. He is 13-0 with a 2.03 ERA during that stretch.
The Venezuelan lefty wasn’t his usual overpowering self on Sunday as he pitched with a blister and split nail on the middle finger of his left hand. He allowed six hits and struck out five, but got better as the game went on. After allowing at least one runner to reach in each of the first five innings, he retired the last nine hitters he faced to help the Twins take two of three in the weekend series.
“People say he didn’t have his best stuff because he didn’t have 13 strikeouts or whatever,” Twins catcher Mike Redmond said. “But he was just as effective getting ground balls and moving through the lineup.”
Tadahito Iguchi had two hits and an RBI to break out of a 2-for-17 skid for the White Sox, who scored two runs in the eighth off reliever Juan Rincon on a sacrifice fly from Jermaine Dye and a single by Joe Crede that made it 5-3.
“Another typical day for Johan,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “This guy knows how to pitch against us. Well, against most of the league. We tried to attack a different way, but we always come up empty.”
White Sox starter Javier Vazquez (11-8) gave up five runs, four earned, on seven hits in seven innings. He entered the game leading the majors in run support with 8.13 per game, but knew he wouldn’t have that luxury facing Santana, who is making a strong bid for his second AL Cy Young award in three years.
Santana is a major league-best 9-0 at home this year and hasn’t lost since the All-Star break. He has been receiving light therapy and medication on his middle finger for a few weeks.
“I feel much better now,” Santana said. “I didn’t really worry about that. … We cannot afford to lose games to these guys.”
The big-hitting White Sox used a little small ball to get on the board in the third. Pablo Ozuna blooped a single into shallow right field and scored off a double by Iguchi.
The Twins have been playing small ball for years, and the “little piranhas” were at it again on Sunday.
Guillen admiringly bestowed that label on the Twins on Saturday, referring to the way they relentlessly pick at their opponents.
Jason Tyner led off the third by reaching on an error by Paul Konerko. He advanced to third on a single by Jason Bartlett, who hustled into second when left fielder Pablo Ozuna tried to get Tyner going to third.
Both runners scored on a single by Redmond and Cuddyer and Justin Morneau added RBIs in the inning to give the Twins a 4-1 lead.
“The piranhas got him today,” Bartlett said.
Cuddyer tried to score from first on Morneau’s double to left. Home plate umpire Dana DeMuth called Cuddyer out on SS Juan Uribe’s relay throw, drawing a heated protest from Gardenhire. … Bartlett was shaken up in the third when his shoulder crunched into Iguchi while he slid into second base. A trainer came out to examine him, but Bartlett remained in the game. … A crowd of 42,537 turned out on Sunday. The Twins drew 367,806 during the 10-game homestand, the fourth largest total in franchise history for a homestand of any length.