Kansas City, Mo. Ervin Santana plans to give the ball from his 100th career win to his mother.
It’s a gift that has been a long time coming.
Santana pitched seven snappy innings in his seventh attempt to reach the milestone, and the Royals finally gave him enough support in a 7-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night that also gave Kansas City its fourth consecutive win.
“It’s a dream come true. I’m just very excited for it,” Santana said of the win. “It’s a long process, a lot of bad outings and a lot of good outings. It feels good to get there.”
Santana (4-5) entered the game with the worst run support among qualifying pitchers in the American League, a big reason why he already had six fruitless tries to win his 100th game.
He finally made thanks to a seemingly endless series of singles and doubles off the Astros’ Erik Bedard (1-3), who failed to make it through the fifth inning.
“Santana pitched good. He was throwing strikes, getting people off balance and getting outs,” Bedard said. “On the contrary, when I pitched they got hits and scored runs.”
Santana allowed five hits in seven innings, striking out six without a walk. The only damage he allowed came on an RBI single by Jose Altuve and a solo homer by Chris Carter.
“He was commanding his fastball extremely well, good slider he kept down and on the outside of the plate. Good speed on his breaking ball. But command more than anything else,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He just looked dominant at times.”
Kansas City had been averaging 2.68 runs per nine innings in games Santana started, and it hadn’t scored more than four runs for him before Saturday night.
But the offense has been coming alive in the nine games since Hall of Famer George Brett took over as interim hitting coach. The Royals have put up at least four runs in each of their four wins, and that’s no negligible feat: They improved to 20-5 when scoring at least four times.
The result of the Royals’ recently improved production has been just their third four-game winning streak of the year and their first since April 30-May 5.
Santana had no trouble against the light-hitting Astros, who only had one hit over the first five innings and didn’t push a run across until there were two out in the sixth.