Johan Santana’s struggles continued tonight against the Dodgers, as he was chased after being knocked around for six runs over just three innings. It matched the second-shortest start of his career.
Santana gave up seven hits in all, including a two-run homer to Matt Kemp in the first inning and a two-run homer to Luis Cruz in the third. He walked three and struck out three and threw 45 out of 72 pitches for strikes.
Santana has now allowed 19 runs over his past three starts and six runs or more in each of them. The southpaw is just the third Mets’ pitcher to give up six runs or more in three straight starts, joining Pedro Astacio and Bobby Jones. He’s the fourth pitcher in the majors to do it this season, along with Joe Blanton, Bruce Chen and Mike Minor.
Santana, who missed all of last season while rehabbing his surgically-repaired left shoulder, now has a 3.98 ERA in 110 1/3 innings through 19 starts this season. This includes an ugly 6.54 ERA in eight starts since he threw a career-high 134 pitches in his no-hitter against the Cardinals back on June 1. Perhaps he was due to hit a wall at some point anyway, but given how much he has struggled recently, it’s hard not to look back to his workload from that historic evening in Queens.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.