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Game 51: Royals at Twins

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Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

First Pitch: 1:10 pm CDT

TV: Bally Sports North

Radio: WCCO 830 / The Wolf 102.9 FM / TIBN / Super Mario Audacy

What’s that smell?

No, seriously, what is that?

Oh, of course, it’s TV’s ERVIN SANTANA, still pitching, still smelling, and still smashing that “FOLLOW” button on every single Twitter account he comes across. I’m pretty sure we’re all being followed by him, including those of us without a Twitter, and those of us who don’t even know they’re going to have one.

When he materialized out of the bullpen against the Twins earlier this year, it was a notable outing; since starting the Wild Card Game for Minnesota in 2017 - on the heels of his second (and probably final) All-Star appearance - Santana has only played in 16 games in parts of four subsequent seasons.

A combination of injury and age seemed to be expediting Ervin out of the majors; he only managed three appearances (and a 9.45 ERA) with the ‘19 White Sox, and didn’t play at all last season. But what’s he doing now? He’s slingin’ and swingin’ out of the Royal bullpen, with a 2.20 ERA in nearly 20 innings, and a decent K/BB ratio despite not much swing-and-miss stuff.

Santana was a tick ahead of the breaking-ball revolution; that All-Star campaign from 2017 was buoyed by a reliance on the slider as a primary pitch, with fastball usage coming behind by just a few percentage points. Now, he’s phased out almost all of his auxiliary pitches, throwing his fastball and slider exclusively - just five (5, V) changeups all year, and that’s it.

Santana has a couple years’ major-league experience on J.A. Happ, though both are in their age-38 season. But is J.A. Happ’s agent named Bean Stringfellow? Nope. Advantage Ervin.

Bean Stringfellow, in addition to his 80-grade name, was a minor-league pitcher in the 80’s, before co-founding a sports management business that ultimately represented players such as Jose Bautista, Ron Gant, and Billy Wagner. In 2011, Stringfellow branched out a little and became co-owner of a frozen yogurt joint. Bean Stringfellow.

GO TWINS GO!

Today's Lineups

ROYALS TWINS
Whit Merrifield - LF Max Kepler - RF
Carlos Santana - 1B Josh Donaldson - 3B
Salvador Perez - DH Alex Kirilloff - 1B
Jorge Soler - RF Nelson Cruz - DH
Adalberto Mondesi - SS Jorge Polanco - 2B
Hunter Dozier - 3B Mitch Garver - C
Michael Taylor - CF Trevor Larnach - LF
Hanser Alberto - 2B Rob Refsnyder - CF
Cam Gallagher - C Andrelton Simmons - SS
Ervin Santana - RHP J.A. Happ - LHP