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Updated: June 26th, 2010 3:07pm
Carl Pavano steals Johan Santana's spotlight with complete game shutout

Carl Pavano steals Johan Santana's spotlight with complete game shutout

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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On a day where Johan Santana faced his former team for the first time since being traded to New York three offseasons ago, Carl Pavano stole the show with a complete game shutout, as the Twins defeated the Mets 6-0 on Saturday.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Twins -- their longest losing streak of the season.

Pavano, who has now thrown back-to-back complete games, allowed only five baserunners -- three hits, a walk, and a hit batter -- and struck out four while throwing 110 pitches.

The shutout was the sixth of Pavano's career, and he lowered his season ERA to 3.33.

In 15 starts now this season, Pavano has thrown at least seven innings 12 times. The last time he failed to pitch seven innings was on May 18 at Toronto, when he lasted just four innings in an 11-2 loss.

Three months remain in the regular season, but Pavano has been worth every penny of his $7 million salary so far.

Santana no longer superhuman

The Twins issued a rude greeting to Santana early on, forcing their former teammate to throw 41 pitches in a four-run first inning. Orlando Hudson, Jason Kubel, and Delmon Young each hit doubles, and Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe Mauer each worked full counts.

Santana would later settle down, throwing six innings and allowing a total of five earned runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out four and threw 105 pitches.

In some ways, Saturday's performance by Santana is a microcosm of how his career has evolved since his days in Minnesota. He's simply a much more ordinary pitcher.

Santana now throws a fastball that ranges from 88-90 miles per hour, and his offspeed stuff doesn't have quite the same nastiness to it.

This isn't the same Santana the Twins knew from 2004-2007 -- a guy who threw a 93-mph fastball with a changeup that sometimes dipped into the mid-70's.

Santana has seen his strikeouts per nine innings drop from an astonishing 10.46 in 2004 to a Kyle Lohse-like 5.69 this season. He's also walking more batters now (2.85 per nine) than at any point since 2002.

On top of that, opponents are making contact 82 percent of the time off Santana this season, as opposed to 66 percent in 2004, and 74 percent for his career.

As painful as it was for Twins fans to see Santana leave three seasons ago, it must be somewhat refreshing to know that he won't be eating up $25 million in this town as a declining pitcher.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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