|Sweet 17: Johan Santana amazes again with franchise-record performance for Twins|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 20 August 2007 15:59|
``You strike out 17, you get paid,'' Tyner said over his shoulder as he walked away.
The money was actually dues for the clubhouse fantasy football league, not a supplement to Santana's $13 million salary for his franchise-record pitching performance on Sunday afternoon.
Still, the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner had plenty to smile about following his eight-inning, two-hit, no-walk, 17-strikeout masterpiece in Minnesota's 1-0 victory over the Texas Rangers.
His strikeouts were the most in the majors since Ben Sheets struck out 18 for the Milwaukee Brewers three years ago, and Santana also broke the Twins record of 15 - accomplished four times, last in 1986.
``As an older player in this league, it's fun to see a guy go out there and just pitch great and be great,'' said catcher Mike Redmond, who was credited with calling a great game by Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire.
Redmond had a clear strategy. Facing a mostly right-handed lineup, Santana threw breaking balls on only four of his 112 pitches. His fastball was hopping, his changeup as tricky as ever.
``That's pretty amazing to go and use just two pitches,'' said Gardenhire, who was reminded of Dwight Gooden's dominance on the mound when they played together with the New York Mets in the mid-1980s.
Santana, who was named the AL's Player of the Week on Monday, was introduced to the Metrodome crowd before the game in honor of that award - giving him a second chance to tip his cap and wave. He tried to downplay the significance of his feat, but Venezuela's favorite left-hander acknowledged he had several congratulatory phone calls from his friends back home.
``The first question that they asked was, 'What happened with you?' I told them, 'Nothing. Just doing my job,''' Santana said, using one of his usual lines.
Accompanied by teammates Boof Bonser and Carlos Silva, Santana began his morning with ``spinning'' class - the trendy indoor cycling activity. He showed up at the stadium in the afternoon for his normal day-after routine.
``Just a regular day,'' he said.
Now second in the majors with 191 strikeouts behind Baltimore's Erik Bedard, Santana (13-9) could easily have left that game with a loss, or at least a no-decision. Minnesota's offense has been struggling all summer, a frustration for all of the team's starting pitchers. Santana was stewing a few weeks ago about the front office, too, when the non-waiver trading deadline passed without an acquisition.
Santana, whose contract expires after the 2008 season, went so far as to say it didn't ``make any sense'' for him to be with the Twins because of what he called a flawed philosophy toward chasing a championship.
But the ability to block out everything but the opposing batter is part of what has made Santana so successful.
``The only thing you can control is yourself,'' he said.
Redmond realized as much.
``If you're a competitor, you don't get mad when guys don't score runs,'' he said. ``We understand that hunger he has to be great, and I think that's why we all love Johan Santana as a teammate and a player. He's hungry. He's won two Cy Youngs, but he comes in here ... to win another one. Not just to be average. He comes in here to be the best.''