Santana credits mechanical fix in win

Veteran righty works into 8th inning against Yankees

June 19th, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Paul Molitor has said that Ervin Santana, his staff ace, has been working hard to fix his mechanics between his last few starts to throw strikes consistently and command pitches effectively.

Santana's progress was in full display in the Twins' 7-4 victory over the Yankees in Sunday's series finale, as the right-hander allowed two earned runs and struck out four in 7 1/3 innings to earn his first win since May 14 and improve to 2-7 on the season.

"My mechanics were better," Santana said. "I've been working on that for the last couple of outings, and I figured myself out right now. Everything was good."

According to the 33-year-old pitcher, he was opening his hips too quickly, which he had been addressing with film work. Molitor hopes Sunday is a sign of things to come.

"Him trying to look back over his past few starts and trying to learn some things and apply some things, both physically and to his mental approach to what he's trying to do, and then getting feedback in a positive fashion, I'd like to think that he'll build on it," Molitor said. "Resume, track record, he's got a lot of things that are positive that he can build upon. You get a good start against a good team and hopefully it gets you going."

Santana didn't walk any hitters on Sunday, marking his third consecutive outing without issuing a free pass after giving up at least one walk in his first 10 starts of 2016. It was the first time in his 12-year career that he recorded three such starts in a row.

"I'm just throwing strikes and keeping the ball down," Santana said.

In the 104-pitch outing against the Yankees, he mixed and located his pitches effectively, flashing some of the ace potential that the Twins were hoping for when they signed the former Angels All-Star to a four-year, $55 million deal before the 2015 season. In doing so, he snapped a streak of three straight starts of allowing five earned runs.

"He was spotting his fastball, mixing in his slider, changeup, sinker, and really just pitching to both sides of the plate," said catcher Kurt Suzuki. "When he's going good, he's keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate, and that's what he did today."