Johan Santana made his first start this season after the All-Star Break last night. It didn’t really take him long to get into his second-half groove, striking out the side (all swinging) in the first inning. Santana finished with 8 strikeouts over 7 innings and allowed just 4 hits, all of them singles. He also walked 1. He threw a total of 91 pitches, but needed just 7 to get out of the 7th inning. This might sound weird to some of you, but I really think that if Johan doesn’t want to throw a lot of pitches (i.e. not get a lot of strikeouts), he knows where to locate the ball so that opponents swing and put the ball where his defense is. Think about when he had the complete-game shutout. He needed only 92 pitches (I’ll say an average of 10 an inning, to make things simple) to retire 31 batters. He also allowed 4 hits that night, but only had 1 strikeout. I don’t really know how to explain it, but I just think that if he wants strikeouts he’ll go for a strikeout but if he knows he needs to just finish another inning (like last night), he can locate the ball around the strike zone so that contact is made but it isn’t necessarily good contact. Alright, now after all that is said, I believe Johan could have pitched the 8th last night. I know 100 pitches is set as a general standard for when pitchers have thrown enough in a game, but Johan has said that he always feels good at 100 pitches and wants to throw more. Now I’m not saying Gardenhire should throw him out there for 110-115 pitches every start, but our bullpen certainly wouldn’t mind not being used in a game, and in last night’s game it might’ve prevented Juan Rincon from giving up 3 runs in his 1/3 innings. He gave up 2 hits and 3 runs, 2 of those coming off a 2-run homer by Eric Chavez. Joe Nathan then had the opportunity to get his 17th save of the season, pitching 2/3 of an inning and allowing 1 hit. Between those two and Pat Neshek, who pitched the 8th, no strikeouts were thrown and no walks were issued. After all of that, though, Santana improved to 11-6 on the season and a staggering 41-4 after the All-Star Break since 2003, when he started all 14 games he pitched in after the ASB. It’s just ridiculous to think how good that is.

 

The offense did the job last night with Luis Castillo hitting a key single with runners on second and third to give the team a 3-0 at the time. He was 3-for-4 with a run scored, a walk, and the 2 RBI. Jeff Cirillo and Nick Punto did good as bottom-of-the-order guys, with each of them going 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored, although Cirillo’s hit was a triple and Punto’s was a single.

 

I’m sorry to say that I’m going on vacation today and it’s very unlikely that I’ll be able to get a post up during the week. I’m going to try the WiFi connection that is at the resort, but I don’t know if it’s been tested before so who knows if it will work or not. As it’s a family vacation, most of my readers will be there with me anyway and not have computer access so it probably won’t be a huge deal.

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