"We definitely feel pretty confident [when Santana's on the mound]," Michael Cuddyer said. "His mentality -- he feels unbeatable, I'm sure. You have to have that mentality when you go out there. We always go into games with a great feeling, knowing he's pitching."
Santana, who led the Twins to the postseason with 19 wins and a league-high 245 strikeouts, just might earn a second career Cy Young Award for his performances this season. Heck, he's a legitimate contender for the league's MVP Award, too.
"He should definitely get the consideration," Nick Punto said of the MVP Award. "When we lost [Francisco] Liriano, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think that was a letdown. A couple weeks later, losing [Brad] Radke was another letdown. Johan solidified that rotation to keep everybody positive, and as far as I'm concerned, he is our MVP."
Even if Santana isn't the AL MVP, his success down the
stretch makes him an ideal candidate. On Sept. 5, he held the Devil Rays scoreless over eight innings and picked up his 17th win.
In his next outing, he stretched his personal winning streak to nine games with a 12-1 victory over the Tigers.
"We all know it starts with Johan, and he was just unbelievable again," manager Ron Gardenhire said on Sept. 10 after that victory. "Early in the game, it looked like he was fighting and he had a lot of pitches, but he just doesn't give in to anything. He keeps battling."
Santana's next two starts were indeed battles, and he took a no-decision and a loss against the Indians and Red Sox, respectively. He fought back, though, with win No. 19 in his final outing, against the Royals.
As it turned out, the Twins needed all 19 of Santana's victories to win the AL Central. So a Cy Young Award, at the very least, is next, right?
"I'm trying more to win a World Series [more] than a Cy Young," Santana said. "If it happens, it happens, and would be a great accomplishment. But I'm just trying to win as a team. I want to end up the season celebrating [a championship] with my teammates. You don't celebrate by
yourself because you win a Cy Young."