Dear New York: You have been Pavstache'd.
On an afternoon where the big story of this game was the Minnesota Twins facing off against their former ace Johan Santana, it was Carl Pavano that stole the show. The Minnesota offense made Santana work right out of the gate, working a 41-pitch inning off the southpaw that led to a four-run frame. A Joe Mauer single and doubles by Orlando Hudson, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young highlighted Santana's early struggles.
Johan is definitely not the same pitcher he was when he won Cy Young awards with the Twins. If you watched the game you saw the fastball topping out at 90 and the changeup sitting in the low 80s, and if Mets fans are concerned about the after-effects of the off-season surgery to remove bone chips then I don't blame them. His mechanics are a little backwards as far as where his elbow sits mid-delivery, and that's just as much mental as anything else.
Pavano faced more than the minimum just twice in the entire game. He ran into trouble (it's all relative, today this constituted "trouble") in the fifth, as the Mets had two base runners in the same inning and even managed to get one into scoring position. Then, in the eighth, Pavano was forced to endure pitching to four batters in one inning.
Three hitters over the minimum in the game, Pavstache's four strikeouts paired with nary a walk (and one beaning of Rod Barajas), and right now we're seeing the man pitch like his warehouse full of Lucky Strikes depends on a great game. He's 4-0 in his last four starts, coming off back-to-back complete games, and saying that he's been the pitcher the Twins needed him to be is an understatement.
Let's run a few numbers on Pavano's great afternoon:
First-pitch strikes: 19/30
Fastball/Sinker %: 63
Off-Speed %: 25%
Breaking %: 5%
Splitter %: 7%
Strike %: 68
Swinging Strike %: 6%
Peak Velocity: 93 mph
Low Velocity: 78 mph
Game MVP: Pavstache
MVP in a losing effort: Jeff Franceour had two of the hits off Pavano
Best Pitching Performance: Pavstache
Best Hitting Performance: Jason Kubel (HR, 2B, 2 RBI)
Welcome Back: Joe Mauer
I Didn't Know You Still Had A Career: Elmer Dessens
Spawn of Notorious Twins Closer: Ike Davis