In Wednesday's 10-6 win over the Rays, Santana stopped worrying and starting swinging, giving Cleveland a glimpse of the slugger that has been buried beneath the burden this year. Santana launched a critical three-run home run, collected two hits and knocked in four RBIs in the victory.
"This has been a hard season for me," Santana said Thursday morning at Tropicana Field. "But I'll be fine. Yesterday, getting those hits helped my confidence."
The Indians are hoping those hits also lit a fire.
"Confidence is a big part of this game," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Hopefully he can have a second half like he had last year and help us out."
Santana's struggles have been well-documented, but the fact is the catcher's numbers through 75 games are eerily similar to last season at the same juncture. The only difference has been a drop off in power production, and some time lost due to concussion and lower back issues.
Through 75 games this season, Santana has hit .225 with a .351 on-base percentage and a .344 slugging percentage, producing six homers, 13 doubles, 34 RBIs, 53 walks and 59 hits along the way. Through 75 games a year ago, the catcher was hitting .226/.356/.409 with 11 homers, 14 doubles, 36 RBIs, 54 walks and 58 hits.
That said, Santana has posted a .182/.308/.250 slash line over his past 39 games, dating back to May 18. In Wednesday's win, the catcher snapped an 138 at-bat drought without a home run and enjoyed his first multihit game since June 18. It also marked his first game with at least two hits and at least two RBIs since May 8.
"I worry too much. I'm thinking too much," said Santana, who has tried to eliminate some excess body movement in his swing this season. "But this is something that happens in the game, for me, and for everybody. I feel strong and I feel stronger game by game."
The Indians are keeping their collective fingers crossed.
"We still have to sit and wait," Acta said. "One game is not going to change the whole thing, but it certainly helps. He's been seeing the ball better. He's been walking more as of late, which is part of his game. Hey, success breeds confidence."