BOSTON -- Johan Santana has found the groove that made him a breakout pitcher for the Twins in 2003 ... and people have taken notice.
After going 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and a league-leading 19 strikeouts last week, Santana was named the American League Player of the Week for June 14-20.
Johan Santana / P
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
The 25-year-old from Venezuela worked a pair of eight inning starts vs. the Brewers on Sunday and the Expos on June 15. On Sunday, he struck out a season-high 12 -- one short of his career high -- while allowing four hits and two walks in a 4-2 win over Milwaukee.
At Montreal, he gave up just three hits without a walk in an 8-2 Minnesota win.
"To win things like that, it shows all the work you put in is paying off," Santana said Tuesday.
With the bat during Interleague play last week, Santana was 3-for-8 with two RBIs. He had the only runs batted in by a Twins pitcher this season against the National League.
After a poor beginning to his season, Santana has made a remarkable turnaround. After going 2-4 with a 5.50 ERA in his first 12 starts, including four-straight losses, he is 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA over his last three outings. Overall, he is 5-4 with a 4.61 ERA in 15 starts.
"It's not just about me, it's about the whole team," Santana said. "You have to credit to everybody. In order for you to win, everything has to go right. You need to have offense, defense and, of course, pitching. Everything worked out pretty good this week."
In the 23 innings spanning his current three-game win streak, the left-hander has 29 strikeouts with just two walks.
Recently, Santana has been nearly as dominant as he was for Minnesota in the second half of last season. After the All-star break, he was 9-1 with a 3.13 ERA. He won AL Player of the Month honors last August by going 5-0 in six starts with a 1.07 ERA.
Other candidates for the weekly award included Kansas City's Angel Berroa (.423, one home run, six RBIs, four stolen bases, AL-high 20 total bases), Carlos Beltran (.417, one home run, five RBIs) and Joe Randa (AL-best .476, three RBIs); Baltimore's Jerry Hairston Jr. (.474); Hank Blalock (.429, three homers, five RBIs) of Texas; Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford (.407, three stolen bases, AL-high nine runs); Cleveland's Casey Blake (.333, two homers, nine RBIs) and Coco Crisp (.393, four RBIs, three stolen bases); and Boston's David Ortiz (.346, two homers, nine RBIs).
Devil Rays left-hander Mark Hendrickson (2-0, 1.32 ERA) was the other pitcher considered.
For winning the AL Player of the Week Award, the first of his career, Santana will receive a luxury watch from Tourneau.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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