SAN FRANCISCO — The Minnesota Twins have come to expect dominant pitching from Ervin Santana. His contributions with the bat on the other hand were a pleasant surprise.
Santana pitched a four-hitter for his third shutout of the season and hit a three-run double in another stellar bounce-back start, leading the Twins to a 4-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.
“For a guy to come through in that situation, it’s a lot of excitement on the bench to say the least,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Santana’s hit that broke the game open. “He knows enough to try to put the ball in play and not overswing. If you somehow put it in play, something good might happen.”
It was a good night all around for Santana (8-3), who recovered from a seven-run shelling last Saturday against the Angels to shut down the Giants in an efficient 91-pitch outing. He struck out five, walked one and started 26 of the 31 batters he faced with first-pitch strikes.
“I felt comfortable, threw a lot of strikes and kept the ball down for the most part,” he said. “Location was good. Just first-pitch strikes the whole game.”
Santana has allowed at least five runs in three starts this season and followed all of them with scoreless outings, including two game shutouts.
Matt Moore (2-7) allowed four runs in six innings to extend his winless streak to five starts. The Giants have lost eight of 11 overall and have just three wins in Moore’s 13 starts this season.
San Francisco barely even threatened against Santana other than getting a leadoff triple from Aaron Hill in the third. But Santana recovered to get Austin Slater on a groundout to first, Moore on a tapper in front of the plate and Denard Span on a groundout to end the inning.
“He just didn’t pitch to heart of the plate at all,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He made it look easy. We had one legit hit off him. He was good. When a pitcher is that good, he just makes you look flat. We just couldn’t get anything going.”
The Twins then broke it open in the fourth thanks to Santana’s bat. With runners on first and second and two outs, Moore walked No. 8 hitter Jason Castro to load the bases. Santana followed with a fly ball to right center that fell just out of reach of a diving Span to clear the bases and put Minnesota up 4-0.
“He’s a great pitcher but I know he’s not a very good hitter and we got burned an AL pitcher,” Bochy said. “They don’t take BP or anything. I’m sure Matty just went after him. He got the barrel to it.”
Twins: INF Jorge Polanco won’t re-join the team until the Twins return home Monday. Polanco left the team earlier this week following the death of his grandfather and is on the bereavement list.
Giants: Ace Madison Bumgarner threw off the mound in the bullpen for the first time since being sidelined with shoulder and rib injuries following a dirt bike accident April 20 in Colorado. He threw 20 pitches. … 2B Joe Panik missed the game after spraining his left thumb Thursday in Milwaukee and is day to day. … INF Orlando Calixte was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for RHP Sam Dyson, who was acquired from Texas earlier this week.
The Twins are one of three teams (Oakland, Angels) who haven’t gotten a homer from a pitcher since the start of the DH era in 1973. But Santana still delivered a big hit, doubling his career RBI total in one swing. It marked the first time a Minnesota pitcher drove in three runs in a game since Luis Tiant on May 28, 1970, against Milwaukee.
The Twins plan to call up LHP Nik Turley to start Sunday in his major league debut. Turley was a 50th round pick by the Yankees in 2008 and spent time in the independent Atlantic League before joining the Minnesota system this season.
Jose Berrios (4-1, 2.76 ERA) looks to earn his second win on this trip when the Twins take on Jeff Samardzija (2-7, 4.29) and the Giants in the middle game of the series.
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