Patrick Reusse: Santana is only latest pitcher to get no help

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 19, 2007 - 8:13 AM

Detroit will be tough to catch if the Twins can't make up ground during the next two weeks.

Manager Ron Gardenhire allowed Johan Santana to push himself to 118 pitches and that didn't allow the magnificent lefty to avoid his fifth post-All-Star loss in the past five years.

The Twins left 14 runners on base, and the most important of those came courtesy of Justin Morneau, last season's Most Valuable Player in the American League.

And Torii Hunter, this season's MVP of the Twins, left the game in the fourth inning because of a strain of his left hamstring that seems certain to have him missing from the lineup for a few days.

Let's see now ... was there any more good news for the home team inside the Metrodome on Wednesday night?

There was that gang of youth in the left-field bleachers that was far more concerned about keeping a beach ball alive than it was about the Twins trying to stay alive in their pursuit of the mighty Detroit Tigers.

And then there was the most-embarrassing moment of all: The attempt of Ryan (Rhino) Henk to guard the safety of various Twins as relievers warmed in the bullpen.

Rhino works in the home clubhouse and doubles as the ball boy along the left field line. He has gained much admiration for his courage as every baseball hit in his direction goes through his legs or off his body.

This time, Rhino showed a new athletic talent. He sprung upward in a badly mistimed leap at a line drive that caused several Twins' bullpeners to dive for cover.

That was the only laugh of the night for the Twins, who have lost three in a row to the Tigers in this fashion:

On July 1, the Twins went into a Sunday night game in Comerica Park looking for a sweep. Scott Baker pitched a game that no one who had watched him in 2006 could comprehend. He held the Tigers to three hits and required 79 pitches to get through eight innings.

The Twins' lusty offense rewarded him with a 1-0 defeat against Jeremy Bonderman.

On Tuesday night, Matt Garza made his second start since his official escape from the organization's doghouse. He held the Tigers to three hits in seven innings.

The Twins rewarded him with a 1-0 defeat to Nate Robertson, a lefthander who was placed on the disabled list last month because he was suffering from a swollen ERA.

On Wednesday, the Twins' hitters had their most amazing achievement: They allowed Santana to suffer a post-All-Star defeat by turning 10 hits, four walks and two hit batsmen into two runs.

Santana, 41-4 after the All-Star break since 2003, was so disgusted at the prospect of this defeat that he convinced Gardenhire to allow him to go to the mound for the eighth inning.

Santana had 103 pitches after seven. He had 91 at that point last Friday when he was lifted with a 5-0 lead. The manager wasn't happy when asked about that decision last week.

What we learned Wednesday is that Santana can get his way if he pushes the issue. He talked his way to the mound for the eighth, and again when Gardenhire made a visit after a walk to Ryan Raburn.

Santana finished with 118 pitches, five hits allowed, three runs and a 3-2 loss.

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