"We are very, very proud of Johan Santana and Joe Mauer," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The way they played the first half was very, very exciting. It doesn't get much better."
The All-Star Game, to be held at Pittsburgh's PNC Park on Tuesday, July 11, at 7 p.m. CT, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage and MLB Radio will provide exclusive play-by-play coverage of the game on the Internet.
It has been quite the year for Santana, who has put together one of the most impressive months seen recently by an American League pitcher. Santana went 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA in six starts during June and earned the honors of AL Pitcher of the Month.
Santana is 9-4 overall this season with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts. His 124 strikeouts lead the Major Leagues and his ERA ranks first in the American League.
"It's a great feeling to be selected for my second year," Santana said. "It's an honor just to be with the best baseball players in the league. I had a great experience last year and I'm looking forward to it this year again."
And while Santana's success has been noticed before, it was Mauer that caught the attention of the baseball world during the first half of this season. The 23-year-old catcher leads the Major Leagues in hitting with his .392 average and has a .458 on-base percentage. Mauer's hot hitting has only increased over his past 35 games, batting .468 with 16 doubles, one triple, three homers and 23 RBIs. He joined Santana with the monthly honors earning the AL Player of the Month.
The No. 1 overall draft pick by the Twins in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Mauer has not gone two consecutive games without a hit this season. He led the Twins last season with his .294 average in his first full season with the club after missing much of 2004 with a knee injury.
Mauer has long been talked about as a player who will make numerous All-Star appearances, but just reaching the first one was enough of a moment to revel in on Sunday.
"It's something I've always dreamt about," Mauer said. "Hopefully I have a couple more times to go. I'm just really excited right now. I get to go and experience it."
There were plenty of other Twins mentioned by the players who also were deemed deserving of All-Star honors who weren't chosen. Those like first baseman Justin Morneau, who ranks near the top of the American League in RBIs with 68, or two-time All-Star closer Joe Nathan, who has gone 14-for-15 in save opportunities and recorded his 100th save of his career.
"There are a lot that could go and you can see that by the way we've been playing," Santana said of his club, which has won 18 of its last 19 games. "It's tough to get that recognition around the league but at the same time, they know what they are doing."
Still, there will be two quality players representing the Twins in Pittsburgh.
For a pitcher-catcher combination that has been working together for the past three seasons, there is a great hope that maybe they will get a chance to showcase their work together on such a huge stage. Santana said that he wasn't sure if he would ask AL All-Star manager Ozzie Guillen to put the two players in at the same time in the game but relished the chance.
"We'll see how that goes but hopefully we'll have a chance to play together," Santana said.