Posted at 10:01 PM on August 19, 2007
by Chris Dall
As I was driving home the other afternoon, KFAN afternoon host Dan Barreiro was opining that Johan Santana didn't seem to be pitching at the level of the past few season, and that while he still considered Santana a very good pitcher, he no longer considered him great, at least not this year. This was the day after Santana's 4-3 loss to the Mariners.
Barreiro's pronouncement may have been meant to get a rise out of listeners, but it was hardly a shocking pronouncement. Similar sentiments have been voiced on this blog. While his numbers aren't that far off from last year, Santana hasn't seemed as dominant, and his mere excellence hasn't been enough to offset the team's inability to score when he's on the mound (although it's hard to argue run support is making that much of a difference, since the Twins have averaged around 4-5 runs per game in his starts for the past few seasons, including his two Cy Young years). It's hard to pinpoint exactly what's been different, but Johan just hasn't seemed to be Johan this season.
Well maybe Johan was listening to Dan Barreiro that day, because today he reminded everyone of just how dominant he can be, striking out 17 and giving up only 2 hits in the Twins 1-0 win over Texas. The 17k's were the most ever recorded by a Twin, and the most recorded in an MLB game since May 16, 2004, when Milwaukee's Ben Sheets struck out 18 against Atlanta. It has to be considered one of the season's most dominant pitching performances.
It was almost enough to make you forget that the Twin scored 3 runs this weekend, one of which came on a wild pitch. Against a team with one of the worst pitching staffs in the league. Let's hope for the Twins fading playoff hopes that Johan has a few more games in him like this one, because the offense needs all the help it can get.