Santana strikes out franchise-record 17 to lead Twins past Rangers

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Johan Santana gave the crowd at the Metrodome something to remember on the same weekend the Minnesota Twins honored their first championship team.

Santana set a franchise record with 17 strikeouts in eight innings to lead the Minnesota Twins past the Texas Rangers 1-0 Sunday.

“You see these guys from 1987 coming in and what they did 20 years ago was really good,” said Santana, who was 8 years old when Minnesota won its first of two championships. “We still have a long way to go, but hopefully we will make it special, and 20 years from now we’ll be in the same situation.”

Santana’s 17 strikeouts were the most in the majors since Ben Sheets fanned 18 in Milwaukee’s 4-1 win over Atlanta on May 16, 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He broke the Minnesota record of 15, accomplished four times— the last by Bert Blyleven on Aug. 1, 1986, against Oakland.

“Somehow I’ll always remember this game,” said Michael Cuddyer, who homered for the lone run.

Catcher Mike Redmond said Santana (13-9) did not shake him off once.

“I’ve had a handful of opportunities to catch a no-hitter. I’ve had a couple of one-hitters and a few two-hitters,” he said. “When I walked off the field in the second inning I thought ‘This could be it. This guy’s got some amazing stuff today.’ … He was unbelievable. He executed all day.”

Santana retired the first 12 batters he faced before Sammy Sosa led off the fifth with a single to left-center. Sosa also doubled with two outs in the seventh for Texas’ only other hit against the left-hander.

“I didn’t try to do anything different, I was just trying to stay aggressive, get ahead in the count and throw my fastball for strikes,” Santana said.

Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth for his 27th save in 29 chances. He struck out Brad Wilkerson and Michael Young with a runner on second to finish off the two-hitter.

Minnesota’s 19 strikeouts for the game were also a team record. The previous mark was 18, last set May 22 at Texas. Santana had 13 Ks in that win.

Cuddyer hit a 425-foot home run off Kevin Millwood (8-10) in the second inning. That was Millwood’s only mistake—he allowed four hits and struck out three in seven innings for Texas.

“At times I felt I got lucky. I threw some bad pitches that they just missed,” Millwood said.

Minnesota has scored just four runs in its last five games at the Metrodome, three of them wins.

The Twins had runners at first and second with one out in the fourth and fifth innings, but Mike Redmond grounded into a double play in the fourth, and Alexi Casilla and Joe Mauer hit weak grounders to end the fifth-inning threat.

With runners on second and third in the seventh, Casilla struck out to end the inning.

Minnesota was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, and is 0-for-19 in the series.

“Our offense carried us. We scored a run,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said with a smile.

Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter each hit balls that were caught at the center-field wall.

It was the fifth time this year Santana has reached double digits in strikeouts. He struck out 13 in a 7-1 win at Texas on May 22.

“He’s got such great arm action with everything, so it is tough to lay off of it,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “The only thing you can do is sit on the changeup, and if he throws you three straight fastballs, you’re screwed. You’ve more or less got to do guesswork on him.”

Santana struck out six of the last seven batters he faced, including a 93 mph fastball he threw past Jarrod Saltalamacchia on his 112th—— and final—— pitch. He tipped his cap to the crowd as he reached the dugout.

“I felt good, but at the same time we knew in that game situation that Nathan will be the right guy to go back out there,” Santana said. “He’s one of the closers in the game and I trust him, just like I trust all my teammates.”

Notes

Former 3B Gary Gaetti was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony. Gaetti played for Minnesota from 1981-90, winning four Gold Gloves. … Santana has struck out 10 or more batters 37 times in his career. … Since 2003, Santana is 20-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 28 August starts … Morneau, who has 28 home runs this year, has not homered in a career-worst 92 at-bats since July 23. … Millwood caught his foot in the dirt and stumbled off the mound while walking Morneau in the fourth. … Texas 3B Ramon Vazquez was 0-for-3, and is 5-for-47 (.106) in his last 14 games.

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