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Twins 3, Angels 0: Trevor Plouffe does all the damage to back Ervin Santana

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Just like that, Minnesota ends the series on a high note.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It hasn't taken Ervin Santana long to get into mid-season form. After missing the first half of the season, Santana has given the Twins a crash course in exactly why they doled out a franchise record $52 million over four years for a free agent. He tossed eight innings of shutout baseball this afternoon, striking out seven without walking a soul and scattering four hits.

Santana hasn't allowed a run in two weeks, following up his 7.2-inning clean sheet with today's eight-inning affair. Mike Trout's single in the sixth broke a streak of 12 retired batters in a row, but that's the kind of day it turned out to be. While Santana let Los Angeles push the issue a bit in the early going before settling in and stymieing the Halos, Garrett Richards' day was the polar opposite.

As one of the best Angels starters this year, on a staff that's already been pretty good to begin with, Richards was untouchable early before a hiccup in the middle innings. He sent down the first 11 Twins batters of the day, but Joe Mauer's 19th double of the season kicked off a two-out rally in the fourth. Miguel Sano, who tried to take a walk on ball three, actually did take a walk in the end and that set up Trevor Plouffe for the one swing that put runs on the board today.

Have a look at that home run here. We'll add video when the embed code is available.

The home run was Plouffe's 13th of the year. It's worth noting that he's Minnesota's second-best hitter this year. Even with Sano holding his own it's difficult to justify moving Plouffe when the rookie so frequently struggles to make contact. Sano was 0-for-3 today with two strikeouts, meaning that through this afternoon's contest he's struck out 22 times in 58 plate appearances. He's not doing poorly, but he's not doing well enough to supplant the club's second-best hitter.

Today's story of the game, though, was Ervin Santana. He only struck out one in his previous start, but today the slider seemed to be the last pitch every single Angels hitter was looking for. Slider away after slider away sat out there as bait, and hitter after hitter flailed and missed. He's now given the Twins 27.2 innings of 2.60-ERA baseball. That's a good start to his career in Minnesota.

At 51-44 the Twins now head home for three games versus the Yankees. A day off separates the New York series from a two-game set playing host to Pittsburgh. I'm really hoping this club can find a way to win four of those five games.

ROLL CALL!

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COMMENT OF THE GAME THREAD

Clutterheart's photo of the Punto family, obviously. Which we're all assuming he didn't steal off of Punto's mantel.

Studs

Ervin Santana
Trevor Plouffe

Duds

NOPE