Ervin Santana Puts Pieces Together For Kansas City Royals In Pitcher's Duel

By Thom Tsang
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Consider this a follow-up to the original diagnosis: I’d called Ervin Santana‘s debut for the Kansas City Royals a Jekyll & Hyde act, noting that he’d actually had himself quite a dazzling debut … if only several of his offerings didn’t get taken out of the park for homers.

Fast-forwarding to his second start of the second on Monday, and the Royals got to see what happens when the coin lands on the good side of the Santana equation.

The right-hander wasn’t exactly a ground ball machine against the Minnesota Twins (7-6 GO-AO ratio), but he did take the home runs out of the equation, and what was left was an effective pitcher who engaged in the unlikeliest of pitcher’s duels against contact pitcher Kevin Correia, emerging as a winner for the first time in 2013 after tossing an an absolute gem.

Santana did allow a run on eight hits through his eight innings of work, but was really only ever in trouble in the first inning, when he gave up four singles and looked to be in for a long day of hard knocks.

But, he settled down after that, retiring his next nine straight batters, allowing just one baserunner on scoring position through the subsequent seven frames while keeping Kansas City in the game the entire day, ending his 104-pitch outing with seven strikeouts to just one walk.

For that, his effort was rewarded with a bit of late-game heroics, as the Royals finally managed to break through Correia’s ground-ball generating wall, giving their No. 2 pitcher a lead that lasted for good.

Inconsistent as he may be because of his fly ball tendencies, it’s hard to argue against Santana’s 15:2 K:BB ratio that he now has through two starts of the 2013 season. Sure, the Royals aren’t necessarily going to know which Santana they’re going to get each time he goes out there, but if the impeccable control keeps up, I’d imagine that they’ll be glad to flip the coin every five days.

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