Every time Johan Santana took the mound for the Minnesota Twins, it was appointment television. Not just for fans in the Twin Cities, but for baseball fans in general.
The southpaw spent eight years with the Twins, where Santana became a master of carving up opposing teams and making his presence felt every fifth day.
During his eight seasons in Minnesota, Santana tossed 1308.2 innings where he won 93 games, owned a 3.22 ERA, struck out 1381 batters and walked 364, won two Cy Young awards, was a member of three American League All-Star teams, and secured the triple crown in 2006.
In Santana's lone postseason victory with the Twins, he went seven shutout innings with five strikeouts at Yankee Stadium in game one of the 2004 ALDS.
Santana helped the Twins take a 1-0 series lead by putting together a gutsy performance to take down Mike Mussina and a loaded Yankees lineup. Everyone knows what came after that win.
The list of achievements and accolades goes on and on for Johan Santana, who cemented himself as one of the best starting pitchers in Twins history.
Hailing from Tovar, Venezuela, Santana's fanbase stretched far beyond those in Minnesota and those in the United States. One of those fans is current Twins' right-hander, Pablo Lopez, who grew up in Cabimas, Venezuela and idolized Santana.
When the Twins acquired Lopez during the offseason in a trade with the Miami Marlins to bolster their rotation and give themselves a No. 1 starter, Lopez mentioned that it was a dream come true for him to be able to put on the same uniform as his idol and couldn't help but share his excitement to be a Twin.
So far, that trade has worked out well for Lopez and the Twins. The righty made his first All-Star appearance this year and posted a 3.66 ERA with 234 strikeouts and 48 walks in 194.0 IP throughout the regular season.
It didn't take long for the Twins to officially make Lopez a major part of their future either, as they agreed to a four-year contract extension in April to keep Lopez in the Twin Cities through the 2027 season.
Fast forward to October, where Lopez had an opportunity to do something the Twins hadn't done since that night in Yankee Stadium in 2004 when his idol was on the mound: win a playoff game.
Heading into the Wild Card round which saw the Twins host the Toronto Blue Jays, it was clear well before then that Lopez was going to be the guy on the mound in game one. What we didn't know, was that he was going to show up to the ballpark dressed like his idol.
Following in Santana's footsteps, Lopez took the mound on Oct. 3 and propelled the Twins to a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays, ending the long, dreaded playoff losing streak that can now be a thing of the past.
In the win, Lopez went for 5.2 innings where he allowed one run on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts to earn one of the most important wins in recent history.
Although Pablo Lopez is forging his own path with the Twins, being able to be in the same sentence as and accomplishing similar things as Johan Santana while wearing the same uniform must mean the world to Lopez. Especially after Lopez received praise from the man himself.
With the way Lopez has embraced the opportunity of being a Twin and how excited he was to come to the Twin Cities, it's awesome to see him rise to the occasion in pivotal moments and be a major part of history.
It's guys like that who you want to keep around the team and the clubhouse for a long time, and hopefully Pablo Lopez can continue building a successful run in Minnesota just like his long-time idol did in Johan Santana.