Ervin Santana has pitched 11 career shutouts, including three this season, and there’s been an odd (and probably random) pattern accompanying those terrific games. In his next start, no matter how well he pitches, his team usually loses.
Santana’s teams are 3-6 in his followups to a shutout (one came in his final start of the 2009 season), and 0-3 with the Twins. This season, his next starts have produced only two earned runs in 13 total innings, a 1.38 ERA — yet the Twins have fallen apart once he departs, outscored 22-10 in two losses.
It’s a bizarre pattern, and one the Twins would surely love to break tonight against the Mariners, on the heels of Santana’s brilliant four-hit shutout of the Giants last Saturday.
“You know he’s going to have a plan. A lot of his plan, regardless of who we face, generally centers around making sure that [hitters] are fastball aware, and he’s confident in throwing it and getting it in on righties and lefties,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “If he gets that point, it certainly opens up options for finishing guys off.”
He’s done a good job of that; Santana’s 63 strikeouts in 13 starts easily lead the Twins, who rank last as usual in that category this season.
“You just hope he goes out there and is something close to what he’s been the majority of his starts this year,” Molitor said of the 34-year-old ace.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Escobar and Eddie Rosario are in the lineup again tonight, following their memorable performances against the Mariners on Tuesday. Rosario smacked three home runs, while Escobar racked up five hits filling in for Miguel Sano. The third baseman is back in the lineup tonight, but Molitor couldn’t take Tuesday’s hitting stars out.
“You kind of go by feel,” Molitor said. He had planned for Rosario to play again against Seattle rookie righthander Sam Gaviglio anyway, and “I think a lot of players would have been surprised tonight if Esco wasn’t playing,” the manager said. So Jorge Polanco gets another night off while Escobar moves to shortstop.
Here are the lineups for the third of four games against the Mariners: