MINNEAPOLIS — In his first 12 seasons in the major leagues, Ervin Santana had never thrown more than two shutouts in a year.
In his third year with the Twins, Santana already has three.
Santana’s latest gem came Friday when he shut out the San Francisco Giants 4-0. The veteran right-hander was ultra efficient in that victory, needing 91 pitches to complete his league-leading third shutout of the season.
“I always keep my mind positive,” Santana said. “I just try to throw strikes. I don’t try to think about big games or anything like that. I just try to do the little things and try to help our team win.”
Minnesota will turn to Santana (8-3, 2.20 ERA) on Wednesday with the hope that their ace can keep things rolling after a big win Tuesday. The Twins set a franchise record with 28 hits and scored a season-high 20 runs.
Chances are Minnesota won’t need 20 runs with Santana on the mound, but the right-hander would certainly take a repeat of Tuesday. And the Twins would take a repeat of Santana’s last outing — a victory and a game in which the bullpen isn’t needed much, if at all.
Santana has gone seven innings or more in eight of his 13 starts and six in four others, helping preserve the Twins’ relievers. The right-hander takes pride in being efficient and getting deep into games.
“It means a lot, especially to save our bullpen and give our chance a team to win,” Santana said.
The veteran Santana will be opposed by Seattle newcomer Sam Gaviglio, who made his major league debut earlier this season. Gaviglio (2-1, 2.79 ERA) will be facing the Twins for the first time in his career.
Gaviglio has made six starts, and the Mariners have won the last three games he’s started. He’s allowed just one earned run in three of his last four outings — but managed to earn a win in a game during that stretch in which he yielded five.
Just as the Twins bounced back from a lopsided 14-3 loss Monday to earn a win Tuesday, the Mariners will try to do the same Wednesday. Seattle’s pitchers allowed a season-high in runs and a franchise high in hits Tuesday, something they’ll have to forget by the time Wednesday’s game starts.
“Things got away from us. It happens,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “You can’t dwell on it too much. Got to put this one to bed, take a shower, wash it off, whatever you want to call it, and we’ll be back after it tomorrow.”
Through two games this series, Seattle and Minnesota have combined for 44 runs on 68 hits.
Wednesday’s showcase has the chance to be the first pitchers’ duel of the series.
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