Santana ties own club mark for HRs by switch-hitter

First baseman has 27 homers after going yard in both of Tribe's Thursday wins

Santana ties own club mark for HRs by switch-hitter

CLEVELAND -- Two months into the season, it seemed improbable that Carlos Santana would find his way into the record book for the Indians. After another strong showing in Thursday's doubleheader sweep of the Twins, that is exactly where Santana's name belongs.

With one home run in each of Cleveland's wins over Minnesota, Santana equaled the franchise's single-season record for home runs by a switch-hitter with 27 on the year. The first baseman previously broke that record during his breakout 2011 campaign.

"For me, it's special every day when I'm in the lineup," Santana said. "I'm not thinking about tying my home runs. What's very important for me is finishing strong. I know what kind of hitter I want to be. I know I tied it, because my friends reminded me. They're so happy. It's a special day for me today. Tomorrow, too."

More impressive than the record itself might be the path Santana took to reach the mark.

Two months into this season, Santana struggled mightily, seeing his average drop to .159 before a concussion sent him to the disabled list on May 25. Through 50 games and 220 plate appearances at that point, which happened to be Santana's final game as a catcher this season, he had only six home runs, 17 RBIs and a .628 OPS.

After returning in early June, Santana's previous role as a third baseman and part-time catcher were scrapped in favor of a move across the diamond to first base. Heading into Thursday's action, Santana had a .912 OPS dating back to the beginning of June. In that same span, he posted a .276 average with 19 homers and 56 RBIs in 363 plate appearances.

"The fact that he wasn't hitting earlier was kind of peculiar, because he's such a good hitter," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But then, I still fall back on that hitters find their level. They don't always do it in the most consistent manner, but that's what you're seeing. He's gone through a couple stretches where he's been so dangerous. It's not just been singles. It's been a lot of production.

"It was definitely hard for him -- there's no getting around it, man. I don't think he's ever not hit like that before, but he's just too good. Fortunately, once he found it, it's been staying there pretty consistently."

That solid comeback does not even include Thursday's heroics.

In an 8-2 win in Game 1, Santana delivered a two-run home run in the first inning and made a handful of stellar defensive plays at first base. In a 2-0 victory over the Twins in the second contest, Santana accounted for all of the Tribe's offense, launching a solo homer in the fourth inning and contributing an RBI single in the eighth.

On the season, Santana has a .235/.369/.449 slash line to go along with 50 extra-base hits, 77 RBIs and a Major League-leading 101 walks in 136 games. Santana is the first switch-hitter in the Majors to achieve at least 25 homers and 100 walks in a season since 2004 (Lance Berkman) and joins Travis Hafner, Jim Thome, Andre Thornton and Al Rosen as the only Cleveland hitters to accomplish that feat.

"It's in the past. I'm not thinking about that right now," Santana said of his showing in the first two months. "Everyone knows, the fans know, that I had a very slow start. But this is a long season. I've kept focused and didn't get down. Right now, I feel great and I'm seeing the ball great and playing good."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.