Berrios’ career-high 12 strikeouts leads Twins past Rangers
MINNEAPOLIS — Once Jose Berrios escaped a jam in the first inning, the rest of the day belonged to the ace right-hander.
Berrios struck out a career-best 12 in seven innings, helping the Minnesota Twins beat Bartolo Colon and the Texas Rangers 2-0 on Sunday.
Shin-Soo Choo jumped on Berrios’ first-pitch fastball for a leadoff double, but Berrios settled down before the Rangers could grab an early lead.
“Yeah, he surprised me,” Berrios said through an interpreter. “I threw a fastball right down the pipe and he obviously connected as you guys know. That kind of gave me a heads up like, `Oh, OK, game on here.'”
Eddie Rosario had two hits for the Twins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bobby Wilson and Robbie Grossman each singled in a run.
Berrios (8-5) surrendered just three hits while improving to 3-0 in June. Trevor Hildenberger pitched a perfect eighth and Fernando Rodney finished the three-hitter for his 17th save.
The Rangers had won seven in a row and missed out on a chance for a perfect six-game road trip. Colon (4-5) yielded two runs and seven hits in seven innings.
“I think I pitched a great game, but I have to give credit to Berrios because he also pitched a great game too,” Colon said through an interpreter.
Choo reached base safely for the 37th straight game with the leadoff double. He advanced to third on Adrian Beltre’s two-out single to left, but didn’t try for home with Rosario charging the ball. Berrios then struck out Rougned Odor to end the inning.
No other Texas runner reached second against Berrios. Only four batted balls left the infield, three coming in the first.
“Sometimes you got to tip your hat to a guy that throws the ball extremely well,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “We saw him last year, very similar stuff, electric fastball, very loose arm, hard to pick up the release point off of him mixed with a solid breaking ball and changeup, just kept us off balance.”
Berrios retired 14 of 16 batters at one point and struck out at least two batters in each of the first four innings. Berrios has allowed eight earned runs over his last 34 1/3 innings (2.10 ERA).
“Every time when I warm him up before the game, I have in my head that it’s going to be a special day,” said Wilson, who was behind the plate for the Twins. “He’s just that electric of a pitcher and has that good of stuff. You just have a good feeling every time you see him on the mound. His pure stuff is elite in the game.”
NO MORE SHENANIGANS
There were no further incidents after an intriguing sequence during Texas’ 9-6 win on Saturday. Jurickson Profar stole second base in the fourth inning with a 9-2 lead. Profar was later hit on the leg by reliever Addison Reed with a pitch that appeared intentional.
The interaction drew a quip from Twins manager Paul Molitor when he was asked before Sunday’s game about the three hit-by-pitches for Profar.
“The first one, our pitcher got his cleat caught in the dirt, the second one was a borderline strike,” Molitor said. “With the armor these guys wear, they don’t worry about getting out of the way. And the last time, we wanted to give him an opportunity to steal another base.”
Before the game, Minnesota optioned rookie starter Fernando Romero to Triple-A Rochester and recalled right-handed reliever Alan Busenitz. The Twins bullpen had to account for 7 1/3 innings in Saturday’s loss after Jake Odorizzi’s short start.
The Twins will need a fifth starter again on Saturday in Chicago. Romero (3-3, 4.38 ERA) won’t be eligible to return unless a player is put on the disabled list. Molitor said the likely starter on Saturday isn’t on the current 25-man roster.
After the game, Minnesota optioned outfielder Ryan LaMarre to Triple-A and will make a corresponding move before Tuesday’s game in Chicago.
Rangers: Joey Gallo was back in the lineup after leaving Saturday’s game with left hamstring tightness. Gallo said the injury has lingered for much of the season but he has played through it. He was at designated hitter on Sunday after playing first base on Saturday.
Twins: Byron Buxton (10-day disabled list, left great toe fracture) went 0 for 2 while playing designated hitter in his fifth rehab game for Triple-A Rochester, which was later suspended due to rain. Buxton is 3 for 16 on his rehab stint and there is no timetable on his return to Minnesota.
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels (4-6, 3.41 ERA) starts on Monday as Texas returns home against the San Diego Padres. Hamels has a 2.89 ERA over his past seven starts and has pitched into the seventh inning in five of the appearances. San Diego counters with LHP Joey Lucchesi (3-3, 3.86 ERA).
Twins: After an off day, RHP Lance Lynn (5-5, 4.64 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series at the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. Lynn owns a 1.73 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 36 1/3 over his last six starts. Chicago will start RHP Reynaldo Lopez (2-5, 3.59 ERA).