June 25, 2007
One-Man Gang: The Sequel
It's real tough, because you have to do everything out there.
Johan Santana was a one-man gang last week against the Mets, tossing a complete-game shutout while drawing a walk and smacking a stand-up double off Jorge Sosa. He continued the Babe Ruth impression yesterday afternoon, holding the Marlins to one earned run over six innings while launching an RBI triple off Byung-Hyun Kim. With Nick Punto on first base in the second inning, Santana squared around to bunt before pulling the bat back and yanking a ball into right-center field.
- Johan Santana, June 24, 2007
According to Ron Gardenhire:
I told him before he went to plate, "We're going to bunt." But I said, "If he runs, then you're going to swing." I meant, "When we steal second, you're going to swing." But he saw it as, "OK, if he runs, I'm swinging." He saw him running and he whacked.
Punto scored easily to put the Twins up 2-1 as the ball flew over right fielder Jeremy Hermida's head and Santana cruised into third base with a stand-up triple before coming around on Jason Bartlett's sacrifice fly to make it a 3-1 game. Santana officially went 0-for-2 in his final two trips to the plate, but his fourth-inning ground ball actually led to runs when Aaron Boone hit Punto with the throw on a would-be force out at second base and the ball skipped into left field.
Santana reached third base again, but strayed too far on a Jeff Cirillo ground ball and was tagged out after a brief, manic rundown that eschewed the base path. While perhaps not the world's greatest baserunner--although he made pretty good time around the bases and didn't pass out following the triple--Santana pushed his career hitting line to .258/.281/.322 in 32 plate appearances. To put that in some context, here's how Santana's career numbers compare to some of his teammates:
AVG OBP SLG OPS IsoP IsoD
Nick Punto .253 .322 .333 .655 .080 .069
Luis Rodriguez .241 .316 .337 .653 .096 .075
Jason Tyner .272 .310 .315 .625 .043 .043
Johan Santana .258 .281 .322 .603 .064 .023
Not only has Santana shown 50 percent more power than Jason Tyner during their respective careers, he's sporting a higher batting average than Punto and Luis Rodriguez, who were half of yesterday's infield and combined on a play that turned a would-be double play into an unearned run. Among pitchers with at least 30 plate appearances, Santana's .603 OPS ranks second in Twins history behind only Luis Tiant, who amazingly batted .406 during his lone season in Minnesota:
Luis Tiant .955
Johan Santana .603
Camilo Pascual .546
Jim Kaat .514
Dave Boswell .504
Santana joins Dave Boswell, Jim Kaat, Mudcat Grant, Jim Perry, Jack Kralick, Camilo Pascual, and Mike Fornieles as the only pitchers in Twins history to hit a triple, becoming the first member of the pitching staff to hit a three-bagger since the designated hitter came into play in 1973. Brewers catcher Johnny Estrada is the all-time leader in plate appearances without a triple, batting 1,970 times without once doing what Santana did yesterday. Funny game, that baseball.
Some other notes from the weekend ...
Kubel began Friday's game on the bench so that Ford and his .728 career OPS against left-handers could start against Scott Olsen. With the Twins down 4-2 in the eighth inning, Kubel came off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit double down the left-field line off Armando Benitez. Kubel came around to score the game-tying run on the play when the Marlins' defense essentially played the double into a homer, but only after Justin Morneau bruised his right lung on a nasty collision at the plate:
Morneau won the battle by scoring, but lost the war by coughing up blood afterward. He remains in a Florida hospital while the rest of the team flew back to Minnesota and there's no timetable for his return. I'm not thrilled with third-base coach Scott Ullger's decision to wave Morneau home on the play, but Ullger putting runners in bad spots is certainly nothing new. After being an awful hitting coach for nearly a decade, Ullger lost that job and is in his second season as an awful third-base coach.
Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.