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Long Live the King

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Santana sets new Twins record, strikes out 17 Rangers in eight innings.

When I was little it was the hardest thing for me to watch a game, see a player hit a home run, and then try to understand why he didn't just do that every time he came up to hit.  I saw greatness and being the age I was, couldn't differentiate between the great moment, the great year and of course the even more extraordinary yet exceedingly rare great player.

On Sunday afternoon, Johan Santana trumped all of the above.  He walked through the ordinary, the successful and the historically great with what appeared to be ease; strike after strike, swing after swing and miss after miss.  Texas was afforded 24 outs through eight innings, and 17 of them went down on strikes.  Through five innings it just looked like another fantastic start from Johan, but by the seventh and eighth innings it was a work of art; a dance choreographed by number 57.  The glare, the windup, the sphere hurtling through space and the awkward swing if one was managed at all, Santana's legs crossed as he steps off the mound toward third base.  And all of it preceeded by the trademark ass wiggle.

While great performances similar to this have been wasted before, on Sunday afternoon Santana needed just one run to ensure himself a victory.  Even though it was all he was granted, its culmination was the win.  In the bottom of the second inning, Kevin Millwood left a 3-1 fastball up over the plate and Michael Cuddyer sent it to the seats just left of center field.  The hit would only be Cuddyer's second home run of August, and while the day's results give him a .197/.246/.361 month, it was the moment that mattered.  Santana provided the greatness; Cuddyer's moment solidified what would mean the victory.

A loss by the Indians and another by the sliding Tigers means the Twins are once again six games out of first place and four and a half out of second place.  Unfortunately the other contending teams in the American League aren't content to let the Twins cling to hope, as the surging Mariners (11-5 in August) lead the Twins by eight games in the Wild Card standings.

It's bizarre to still be talking playoffs when your team is one game over evens and hasn't been able to show you any sort of realiable offense.  Suffice it to say the Twins' best hope of reaching the post season (whatever mathimatical hope there is as October's reality is less than probable) lies in catching the Central Division leaders.  I don't think the Twins can do it at this juncture, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

As for Santana's performance, it was one of the best I've ever witnessed in my 27 years. Long live Johan's reign; Long Live the King.