On Sunday, Jose Berrios narrowly beat out teammate Eddie Rosario for the team’s lone All-Star spot on this year’s squad in Washington D.C.
On Monday, Berrios was absolutely filthy as he held the Kansas City Royals to a single earned run over seven innings in a 3-1 win at Target Field.
The win marked five in a row for the Twins, who are still eight games under .500 and still trail the Cleveland Indians by 8.5 games with the division leaders losing to Cincinnati earlier in the evening.
Three of the six hits Berrios allowed went for extra bases, but when the righty got into trouble — and it wasn’t often — he was able to make a pitch when he needed to wriggle out of danger.
The Twins offense amounted to “death by papercuts,” but it was enough to chase Royals lefty Danny Duffy after six innings, allowing them to get to what’s statistically the worst bullpen in baseball.
It did not disappoint — at least from a Twins standpoint.
The Twins pushed across two earned runs in the seventh, one for insurance in the eighth and Fernando Rodney came in to fire an arrow — though not before making it a little interesting in the meantime.
Here’s what we saw from our vantage point:
Win probability chart
Berrios was incredible…
The final line shows his dominance — seven innings, eight strikeouts, no walks, six hits and one earned run — but also shows the nonsense of the pitcher win. Despite pitching as well as he did, Berrios still had to white-knuckle it in the bottom of the seventh as the Twins took the lead against the woeful Royals bullpen.
And if the Twins took the lead in the eighth, or Berrios was lifted with two outs in the seventh? Tough luck, kid.
Nevertheless, Berrios was dastardly against a hapless Royals offense, with 16 swinging strikes on the night in his 111 pitches — a season-high for the latter.
“I felt great today out there,” Berrios said. “My last two outings, I felt a little low on energy, a little tired. But today I felt better and the game plan worked for us.”
The only real “trouble” Berrios worked into was a leadoff double from Alex Gordon in the third inning, followed by one from Alcides Escobar three pitches later to give the Royals a 1-0 lead.
They held it until the bottom of the seventh, but it was the only lead they held all night.
Berrios faced the minimum in the first, second and seventh innings, and in the sixth picked off Rosell Herrera to technically only face three hitters that inning, as well.
“And to get a strikeout, Esky making a nice play, and then getting off the field. It was keeping it at one was really, I thought, important to where the game was headed.”
Berrios threw a staggering 41 curveballs on the night — more than he threw any other pitch — and got five swinging strikes on it (12.2 percent whiff rate). The four-seam fastball also got five whiffs (16.1 percent), with the changeup getting four (40 percent) and the two-seamer getting just one (3.6 percent).
As a reminder, 10 percent is roughly average, with fastballs skewing lower and breaking/offspeed stuff higher. In other words, his four-seamer was en fuego.
Berrios dropped his season ERA to 3.41 with the win — the lowest it has been since June 24 when he shut down the Rangers for seven innings.
Berrios also added that he still can’t believe he’s an All-Star.
“It feels weird when I hear it, ‘Jose Berrios is an All-Star.’ But I’m proud of it.”
….Duffy might have been even better…
Duffy couldn’t match Berrios in innings — just six — but had more strikeouts (nine) with six hits allowed and zero earned runs. His season ERA is still 4.89, but this is a guy coming off back-to-back sub-4.00 ERA marks, and he was throwing smoke on Monday night.
Both of his fastballs — two- and four-seamers — reached 98 mph on the night, and he had 13 swinging strikes. Five came on his slider, with three apiece on the four-seamer and changeup and one each on the two-seamer and curveball.
“(Duffy) came out throwing as hard as I’ve seen him throw for a couple years early, and then he got to pitching,” Molitor said. “I mean, thankfully we made him work. We stranded guys, yes, but the pitch count got up there where after six pretty good innings, we got him out of the game, which was good for us.”
It doesn’t seem like he’s on the move with the Royals clearly in teardown mode, but he’s one of the team’s only assets making much money with significant value. They’ll probably wait a year in hopes that he’s performing a little better on the surface.
He’s signed for three more years after this season at a reasonable total of $45.5 million.
Ned Yost was ejected — and it was probably merited
So, Yost was thrown out in the fourth inning after Lucas Duda struck out swinging. Check out where the pitch was located:
Not great! The ejection was Yost’s first of the season, and 43rd of his career.
Eduardo Escobar had a whale of a ballgame
A recent cold snap — coupled with the terrific seasons from Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez and Houston’s Alex Bregman — may have cost Escobar his shot at the All-Star Game, but he picked up where he left off with three hits in this one.
This was Escobar’s 28th multi-hit game of the season, and his first three-hit game since June 17 in Cleveland.
“Yeah, there’s no doubt about it,” Molitor said when asked if he felt Escobar was deserving of an All-Star nod. “Fifty-plus extra-base hits, that’s what jumps out as well as where he’s at with his doubles category. But making a play, he got a couple of hits. Tough matchup with him and Duffy. Elevated fastballs from the right side for Esco are not his favorite thing.”
….as did Joe Mauer
Other than Escobar, Mauer (3-for-5) was the only Twins player with multiple hits on the evening. They were all singles, but Mauer accounted for a run scored and another driven in on a night where two runs got the job done.
Not bad for a night’s work.
Mauer is up to .267/.360/.355, and while the slugging percentage isn’t where most would like it, at least he’s using his on-base percentage as much as possible in the leadoff spot.
This was Mauer’s first three-hit game since June 29 against the Cubs.
“Joe had a really nice night too, and he just had to really grind to score runs,” Molitor added. “Rosario’s at-bat off Hill, when he put the ball in play and we had a good jump from Cave at third. And then we added on there too with Joe’s big hit in the eighth to give us a little room to work with in the ninth.”
The Royals offense was especially quiet — even by 2018’s modest standard
Coming into Monday night’s action, no MLB offense had it worse than the Royals, who were hitting a collective .238/.294/.364 — a league-worst wRC+ of 80.
The long and short of it is that it’s an awful lot like Gordon has hit this year: .243/.321/.335 (78 wRC+) coming into Monday.
But Gordon was the only Royals player to reach base more than once, as the team combined to get on base a total of just eight times as Twins pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts, one walk and seven hits allowed on the evening.
That won’t cut the mustard against most teams, let alone a Twins team that came into this homestand really, really scuffling.
Rosario wants you to “Accept this Rosie”
The Twitter campaign to get Rosario to Washington D.C. is “Will You Accept this Rosie?” which *I believe* is related to the Bachelor/Bachelorette television series…?
To start Monday night’s game, Rosario ran out into the field with a rose, and presented it to a female fan before the game.
“I wanted to try something funny,” he said. “But I want to say thank you to the fans in left field. It was a good opportunity to see the smiles on the little kids. I think I’m doing a good job.”
- The Twins improved to 25-20 at Target Field this season, while the Royals fell to 14-30 away from Kauffman Stadium.
- Monday night marked Berrios’ 12th quality start of the season and ninth time he’s gone at least seven innings.
- Max Kepler (1-for-4) extended his hitting streak to a modest five games. Escobar (1-for-4) did the same for the Royals.
- Fernando Rodney recorded his 321st career save, passing former Twins reliever Todd Jones for 19th on the all-time list.
- Mauer’s next start against the Royals will be his 200th career game against them.
- The team’s five-game winning streak ties a season-high.