Preview: Twins vs. Mariners
MINNEAPOLIS — Jose Berrios was dazzling in his first action of 2018, going the distance in a 7-0 shutout of Baltimore last weekend.
Coming off an impressive 14-victory season a year ago, the 23-year-old held the Orioles to three hits and a walk while striking out six. At one point, he retired 17 consecutive batters and finished with his first complete game shutout.
“I want to have more,” he said.
Berrios gets his chance Saturday, when the Twins resume their first home series of the season with a matinee against the Mariners at Target Field.
“There were a lot of positives to take from a start like that,” manager Paul Molitor said.
The Twins have pitched well to open the season and they’ve been punishing opposing pitchers from the batter’s box as they enter the weekend with 12 home runs, good for second in the American League.
They hit three homers Thursday in a 4-2 victory over Seattle in their home opener. Brian Dozier has four and is tied for the league lead.
“You can guesstimate how many guys have a chance to get 15 [home runs] or more,” Molitor said. “It is pretty high.”
Power was a specialty last season for Minnesota, which also added Logan Morrison, who hit 38 for Tampa in 2017, during the winter. He’s started out slowly, with just one hit in 15 at-bats, but he joins a lineup that had three players hit at least 27 homers a year ago.
“They got some acquisitions to come in and help us out with that,” Dozier said. “We are just going out there, having fun and doing our thing. The way we are supposed to.”
Mike Leake, who gets the start for Seattle, has been good not just at keeping the ball in the park but from keeping his opponents from scoring in general.
Since the Mariners acquired him from St. Louis last August, Leake has posted a 2.54 ERA in six starts and held Cleveland to two runs on five hits over a seven-inning debut last week.
After playing Thursday with temperatures hovering in the low 30s, Leake and the Mariners will again need to be prepared for the elements Saturday, when the game-time temperature is expected to be around 31 degrees.
While the Mariners have played just 11 games with the first-pitch temperature below 40 degrees since 1988, Leake has plenty of experience, having pitched previously for the Cardinals and Reds.
“You just have to bundle up and stay as warm as you can,” Leake said. “If you can keep your hand warm and stay mobile and make sure your blood is flowing, for the most part you can keep your grip. Once you start getting cold and losing that feel, that’s when you start losing it. You have to try to ignore it. If you can block out the weather and get the tunnel vision, it distracts you from how cold it is.”
The Mariners will still be without catcher Mike Zunino when they return to action. There was hope he’d come off the disabled list this weekend but after taking part in a simulated game earlier this week in Tacoma, Zunino will get a little more time to heal from his strained oblique.
“Just going off what the medical people say, let’s just be safe instead of sorry on this one,” manager Scott Servais said. “So we’re just slowing down a little. Still hopeful to get him back soon. I don’t think it’s going to be four to six weeks, but based on where the temperatures are here, just tap the brakes a little bit.”