Rookie Santana leads Tribe to big win over Nats
CLEVELAND (AP) The Carlos Santana Era in Cleveland is now in full swing.
Santana homered and drove in three runs in his second career game, powering Fausto Carmona and the Indians past the Washington Nationals 7-1 Saturday night.
Santana gave fans a peek at the future. With the teams wearing throwback uniforms, Carmona turned back the clock to 2007 – when he went 19-8 as one of the game’s most overpowering pitchers.
“That was our most dominant performance by a pitcher this season,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “Fausto was terrific and Carlos gave us a bit of a glimpse of what he can do.”
Santana showed that Washington is not the only team with a rookie phenom. The rookie catcher got his first career hit one night before heralded pitcher Stephen Strasburg will make his first road start.
The 24-year-old switch-hitter had a two-run double off former Indians farmhand J.D. Martin (0-2), in a four-run second inning that put Cleveland ahead 5-0.
He then hit his first homer on a 1-1 pitch leading off the sixth, a drive into the right-field seats that made it 6-0.
Teammates completely ignored him when he got back to the dugout. Santana quietly sat down – then was mobbed by players pounding his back in congratulations.
“That’s part of the game,” Santana said of the common practical joke in the majors, the ol’ silent treatment. “I’ve seen it before. I was just very happy.”
The Indians presented Santana with the baseballs he hit for his double and homer. He will give both to his mother.
Carmona (5-5) faced only 28 batters, one over the minimum. He twice induced double plays immediately after yielding a single.
“He threw 22 of 28 first-pitch strikes,” Acta said. “He had a great changeup. It was a terrific performance.”
Carmona gave up three hits and one run in his second complete game of the year to win for the first time in six starts. He struck out seven without a walk as Cleveland won its fourth straight for the first time since April 15-18. The Nationals fell to 4-14 on the road since May 13.
“I don’t want to show any disrespect for anyone else, but I don’t know that anyone has pitched a better game against us this year,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “Nothing comes to mind, really.”
Ryan Zimmerman ruined Carmona’s shutout bid with his 13th homer to open the eighth.
Russell Branyan homered in the bottom half to make it 7-1.
Carmona credited Santana, whose reputation is that of a hitter in need of work behind the plate. He switched from playing infield to catcher only three years ago.
“I didn’t shake him off once,” Carmona said. “I was very confident in him.”
Acta thanked the coaching staff at Triple-A Columbus for preparing Santana for the majors.
“He’s nowhere near what he looked like in spring training,” Acta said. “He did a tremendous job calling the game.”
Cleveland scored an unearned run without a hit in the first. Shin-Soo Choo was hit by a pitch, went to third on a throwing error by second baseman Adam Kennedy, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Travis Hafner.
Luis Valbuena had a sacrifice fly and Choo an RBI single in the second. Santana then hit a sharp grounder past first baseman Adam Dunn to make it 4-0.
“The ball really jumps off his bat,” Riggleman said. “They’ve got a special guy there.”
The teams wore uniforms from each city’s first World Series championships, the 1920 Indians and 1924 Nationals, also called the Senators. Cleveland’s uniforms sported the black armband that was worn 90 years ago after Ray Chapman died one day after being hit by a pitch by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees that season.
On Sunday, fans will get a glimpse of the future: Santana vs. Strasburg.
Strasburg struck out 14 over seven innings in his debut Tuesday night against Pittsburgh.
Santana, acquired in a July 2008 trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers for veteran Casey Blake, hit .316 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs in 57 games at Columbus before his callup Friday.
NOTES: Indians OF Trevor Crowe left with a right knee contusion. He fouled a ball off the knee. … Nationals C Ivan Rodriguez, 3 for 9 with two homers in his career against Carmona, didn’t play. He had started three of four games and gone 5 for 11 since being activated Tuesday after missing 14 games with a strained back. Rodriguez caught Strasburg’s debut and will catch him again Sunday. … Cleveland signed INF Aaron Fields, its 42nd-round draft pick. He is the son of the team’s hitting coordinator Bruce Fields, a former big league catcher.
Updated June 12, 2010