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GAME OF THE DAY

Santana Pulls Twins Even Closer to Tigers

September 11, 2006|From the Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Johan Santana already has one AL Cy Young Award and appears to be closing in on another.

After his latest dazzling effort brought the Minnesota Twins within striking distance of Detroit in the AL Central, teammate Nick Punto thinks Santana deserves consideration for another honor -- most valuable player.

The left-hander struck out 11 and gave up only two hits in Minnesota's 12-1 victory over the Tigers on Sunday, pitching into the seventh inning and pulling the Twins to within two games of first-place Detroit.

"Santana just dominates," said Punto, who had four hits and three runs batted in. "There's a psychological thing going on too, with teams who come in here against him."

The Twins haven't lost a Santana home start since Aug. 6, 2005, going 22-0. Santana (18-5) is 15-0 with a 1.92 earned-run average during that stretch and hasn't lost a game since the All-Star break.

"That's why Santana is my MVP," Punto said.

Only four pitchers have won an MVP award since 1971.

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