MLB

Twins' Santana among MLB's best starters in late innings

If Ervin Santana really does smell baseballs like his signature #SMELLBASEBALL hashtag infers it seems his senses pick up as the game progresses.

Santana leads Major League Baseball with four complete games which is an incredible feat considering no MLB team has combined for more than three complete games this season.

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Hes difficult for opposing hitters to attack if they dont get to him early.

Erv has the best opponent batting average (.140) in the fifth inning or later in the big leagues. He ranks third in opponent on-base percentage (.218), slugging percentage (.257) and WHIP (0.79), and fourth in ERA (1.79) after the fourth inning, as well.

Santana also registered four complete games in both 2010 and '11 while pitching for the Angels. With just under a half season to play, its likely that the 34-year-old veteran records another to set a career best.

Santana will have a chance to do so when he toes the rubber in the series-opening game at Target Field against the Tigers on Friday night. In his career, Santana has racked up nine wins and a 3.08 ERA against the Tigers.

NOTABLE

-- Brian Dozier has the fourth-highest slugging percentage (.508) as a leadoff hitter since 2015. The Twins have seen a boost in his production in the last week: Dozier began back-to-back games with a home run on July 14-15, and hes riding a six game hitting streak.

-- Detroit and Minnesota ranks second and third in on-base percentage in July, at .349 and .346.

Statistics courtesy STATS and baseball-reference.com