It's June; time for Santana to get hot

  • Article by: La Velle E. Neal III
  • Star Tribune
  • June 3, 2007 - 10:05 PM

OAKLAND, CALIF. - Twins lefthander Johan Santana entered Sunday with a career record of 16-4 with a 2.76 ERA in June. Before June, he's 20-16.

So the reaction to the question, "What's wrong with Johan," has led to the response: "It's not June yet."

June has arrived, but Santana's hot streak hasn't.

Santana struggled early with the strike zone and threw a wild pitch Sunday, eventually giving up four runs (three earned) over six innings on five hits, four walks and four strikeouts. It was the first time this year Santana has failed to strike out more batters than he's walked,

"It wasn't the best outing, but I feel all right," Santana (6-5) said. "We threw some pitches out there that were close. We were trying to figure out what kind of strike zone we got out there."

Santana, coming off his second Cy Young Award last season, wanted to get off to an uncharacteristic fast start this season but that hasn't happened. He hasn't been sharp at times and, of the 26 times the Twins have failed to score four runs this season, eight have come on Santana's starts.

When asked about not getting off to the fast start he wanted, Santana said: "I felt pretty good. I feel healthy and feel strong, and we'll see what happens."

Santana also wouldn't lament the lack of run support that has happened on eight of his 12 starts. (The Twins are 2-5 with a no decision in those games.)

"You sit here as a team," he said. "We struggle -- not able to score runs, not able to pitch -- and when we do good everyone is happy. When you struggle that's when you show what kind of player you are because you have to battle through it, and as a team it's the same way."

The Angels await

Now the Twins head to Anaheim to face the AL West-leading Angels and three good pitchers -- Jared Weaver, Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey -- lined up to face them.

After winning four consecutive series before running into Oakland, the Twins could return to the Metrodome on Friday having lost two consecutive series if they don't tighten things up.

"We knew coming in here there was going to be some very good pitching," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "And it's not going to get any easier."


• Catcher Joe Mauer arrived Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla., and will work out today before playing Tuesday in an extended spring training game. The goal is to have Mauer play at least one game with Class A Fort Myers to make sure his strained left quadriceps muscle is fully healed and be activated Friday.

• Gardenhire waited to produce a lineup until he heard from Luis Castillo, who was hobbling more than usual during Saturday's game. But Castillo said he was ready to play and didn't need a day off.

• Catcher Mike Redmond stepped on a baseball during Santana's pre-game warmups, rolled his ankle and fell to the ground in pain for a few minutes. But he stayed in the game and played all nine innings.

• Gardenhire was out on the field early to watch a parade of Little Leaguers around McAfee Coliseum. Why? He's sponsoring a team run by a cousin in nearby Santa Cruz. The team went around the field wearing Twins jerseys with "Gardy's Slammers" printed on the back above the numbers.

La Velle E. Neal III •

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