06/14/06 1:33 AM ET
Kubel's grand slam lifts Twins in 12th
Santana strikes out 13 Red Sox in eight innings
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
But while the blast may have sealed the deal, it all truly began with a performance for the ages from Santana. It seemed only fitting that the Twins could find some way to eek out a win after the type of performance put together by their ace.Dominant outings aren't anything new for Santana, but against the Red Sox, the Twins ace was historic. Santana became the sixth Twins pitcher to record 1,000 strikeouts. His was the second fastest to the number, accomplishing the feat in his 198th appearance. Bert Blyleven is the only Twins pitcher to reach 1,000 career K's faster, as he did it in his 170th outing. The historic strikeout came against former Twins player David Ortiz in the fourth inning, and when the record went up on the score board, the crowd greeted Santana with a standing ovation to which he tipped his cap. "It was very special to see all the fans here and standing," Santana said. "That's why I tipped my cap." Needing just eight strikeouts heading into his start on Tuesday to reach the mark, Santana went way beyond the call as he struck out a season-high 13 batters in eight innings of work. Santana looked dominant right from the start, as he struck out the first five batters he faced. He allowed just five hits and did not walk a batter in the outing. "Santana, that might be as good as I've ever seen him throw the baseball," Gardenhire said. "I don't know if I've ever seen his stuff that good."
"Going against a Cy Young caliber type of pitcher like Schilling, you have to be on top of your game, because one mistake will change the whole game," Santana said. "And it seemed like in the seventh inning, that was the case."That's because Santana did make his lone error of the game in the seventh, when Jason Varitek broke the scoreless tie by homering on a first-pitch changeup with two outs in the inning to give Boston a 1-0 lead. But it didn't take long for the Twins to return the favor, as Michael Cuddyer delivered his 10th home run of the season on a solo shot off Schilling in the bottom of the inning. It was one of only six hits that the Red Sox ace would give up on the night as he went eight innings, walking one and striking out five. When Jesse Crain loaded the bases with only one out in the top of the 12th, it looked like the Twins wouldn't pick up the win. Although one run would score on an Alex Gonzalez's grounder to shortstop, Nick Punto made a spectacular play and got a force-out, almost turning a double play to spark some life in the Twins. Overall, through all the ups and downs that carried the Twins to their seventh victory of the season that has come in the last at-bat, it was still clear that there was something a little more to this one. "I've been in some games where I feel that I've done a good job, but tonight was special," Santana said.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.