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Pitcher Santana surprises with 3-run double

Twins starter helps own cause while tossing 91-pitch shutout
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

SAN FRANCISCO -- With the way Ervin Santana has pitched over the last calendar year, with a 2.61 ERA over his last 33 starts, it wasn't exactly a surprise he recorded his Major League-leading third shutout of the season Friday against the Giants.

But with a .118 average and three RBIs in his career, it was a bit of a shock to see Santana come through with a three-run double to help his own cause in a 4-0 win at AT&T Park.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- With the way Ervin Santana has pitched over the last calendar year, with a 2.61 ERA over his last 33 starts, it wasn't exactly a surprise he recorded his Major League-leading third shutout of the season Friday against the Giants.

But with a .118 average and three RBIs in his career, it was a bit of a shock to see Santana come through with a three-run double to help his own cause in a 4-0 win at AT&T Park.

View Full Game Coverage

Santana became the first Twins pitcher with three RBIs since Luis Tiant in 1970 and doubled his career RBI total in just one at-bat. He was also the fourth American League pitcher with at least three RBIs since the designated hitter was introduced in 1973, joining Mike Mussina, Felix Hernandez and Chris Young. The last AL pitcher to hit a three-run double was the Washington Senators' Bill Gogolewski in 1971. And with 91 pitches, Santana became the first pitcher to record a "Maddux" -- a shutout with fewer than 100 pitches -- and have three RBIs in a game since Cory Lidle in 2004.

Video: MIN@SF: Santana goes distance, notches three RBIs

"He got a big hit for us, which is surprising because these guys don't swing the bats very often," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think because there's only about 10 of these games where pitchers hit on the road, there's always extra attention paid. For a guy to come through in a situation like that, there was a lot of excitement, to say the least."

With two outs in the fourth, catcher Jason Castro laid off a 3-1 curveball from lefty Matt Moore, drawing a walk to bring up Santana with the bases loaded. Santana hadn't had a hit since 2014, but promptly laced a line drive into right-center field that center fielder Denard Span couldn't handle, bringing in three runs.

Santana said he was simply looking for a fastball, and when he saw a first-pitch 91.5 mph four-seamer from Moore over the plate, he capitalized.

"Fastball, swing," Santana said. "I was just trying to make good contact and see what happens. I wasn't trying to do too much."

It wasn't exactly crushed, leaving the bat at 88.9 mph at a launch angle of 26 degrees, giving it a 9-percent hit probability, per Statcast™. But it was hit in the right spot, as Span only had a 55 percent chance of making the play, according to Statcast™.

"I don't think Ervin gets nervous in those situations," Molitor said. "If something good happens, something good happens. The outfielders were playing a little bit in, in case there was a bloop. But he got it to the right spot out there, splitting Span and [right fielder Hunter] Pence to fall. It was a huge hit."

Santana told Molitor before the game that his goal at the plate wasn't to get a hit, but to get four at-bats because it meant he pitched deep into the game. Santana got his four at-bats, and much more with his shutout and career night at the plate.

"It's a big thing," Santana said. "It means you're pitching good."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Ervin Santana