April 16, 2007
Notes From the Weekend (Condensed Version)
Instead, Scott Kazmir shut the Twins' lineup down and the defense behind Santana let him down, ending his amazing run with a 4-2 defeat. Despite the loss, Santana again bucked his career-long trend by pitching well in April, racking up 10 strikeouts over seven innings. He's 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA, 25-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and .194 opponent's batting average in 20 innings. Those numbers fit perfectly with Santana's career totals, but they stick out compared to what he's done in April.
Through three starts in his first Cy Young-winning season, 2004, Santana was 0-0 with a 6.46 ERA and 10-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15.1 innings. Through three starts in his second Cy Young-winning season, 2006, Santana was 0-2 with a 5.71 ERA and 12-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17.1 innings. For his entire career, Santana was 6-5 with a 4.42 ERA in 132.1 April innings coming into this year. Home loss or not, to see Santana pitching this well so early is unique.
Carl Crawford, Akinori Iwamura, and Carlos Pena didn't have much success against Santana, going 1-for-8 with a walk and three strikeouts, although it was Crawford's sixth-inning single that Josh Rabe turned into an inside-the-park homer. Santana has held lefties to a .179 batting average thus far, but has allowed a .710 OPS against them, compared to a .534 OPS against righties. Of course, it's so early that Rabe's misplay alone raised Santana's OPS allowed against lefties over 100 points.
Ponson pitched much like he did against the Yankees, yet turned in a start that fits perfectly in the "five or six decent innings" category. He allowed two runs over 5.1 innings, although to be fair it took some help from both the defense and the bullpen for him escape without further damage. Ponson also benefited from a much more liberal strike zone, which helped limit the potential for trouble. His 8.18 ERA remains ugly, but Ponson's actual pitching has been somewhat encouraging.
Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.