Johan Santana dominates Padres for first shutout since 2010

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It’s safe to say that Johan Santana is back.

In an effort which was both dominant and efficient, Santana tossed a four hit-shutout this afternoon at Citi Field as part of a 9-0 victory over the light-hitting Padres. All four hits he gave up were singles and he threw 74 out of 96 pitches for strikes. He struck out seven and didn’t issue a walk.

Santana has been the victim of low run support this season, but that wasn’t an issue for him today. The Mets scored four runs off Clayton Richard in the first inning on homers from Scott Hairston and Vinny Rottino and tacked on five more in the ninth inning against former Met Dale Thayer, including a grand slam by Mike Nickeas.

This was the ninth shutout of Santana’s career and his first since August 10, 2010 against the Rockies. Sure, the Padres are one of the worst offensive teams in the sport, but today’s outing was an important benchmark for someone who missed all of last season while rehabbing from shoulder surgery. The 33-year-old southpaw hadn’t lasted longer than seven innings in any of his previous nine starts this year.

While Santana’s velocity isn’t what it was prior to surgery, he has an outstanding 2.75 ERA and 60/16 K/BB ratio over 59 innings this season. That’ll work.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.

The Red Sox sign Jhonny Peralta

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The Red Sox have signed third baseman Jhonny Peralta to a minor-league deal. He’ll report to Pawtucket.

Peralta, 35, hit a paltry .204/.259/.204 in 58 plate appearances for the Cardinals this year. But with Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list — and ineffective when he hasn’t been — the Sox could use some infield depth.

This is the second former Tiger that former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has picked up today, after signing Doug Fister. No word if he’s kicking the tires on Andy Dirks or Brennan Boesch.