The Twins had a chance to tie the game, or take the lead, in the eighth inning once Porcello left the game. Colten Brewer gave up a single to Jonathan Schoop to lead off the inning, and walked Max Kepler.
With two men on and no outs, Jorge Polanco, who came into the game hitting .332/.395/.557, bunted. He advanced both runners, but producing an out — a trade most modern day managers are not inclined to make.
“It wasn’t a formal put the bunt on and get the bunt down. But like what we talk about, we trust our players to make decisions on the go,” said manager Rocco Baldelli. “He also was trying to put a good bunt down and I think also get on base if he could as well in addition to moving the runners.”
“I was trying to bunt for a hit, but I also wanted to move the runner,” said Polanco. “I ended up moving the runners. That was that.”
The next batter, Nelson Cruz, reached on a fielder’s choice out when he hit a dribbler back to Brewer, producing the second out. Schoop went on contact, as directed, and was tagged out in a rundown. Kepler, not wanting to block third base, went back to second — essentially moving the tying runner from third to second on that play.
“It’s a good move because we were going on contact with that play, so we’re going,” said Baldelli when asked about Schoop. “There will be balls put in play and they’re not beneficial, it’s not going to work out. If we go in and just allow him to tag us, Kep will walk into third. It feels like you’re giving yourself up but, really, we take a chance.”
Eddie Rosario hit into the shift to produce the third out.
Ultimately this loss feels better than the 8-6 result against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, when Minnesota left 15 men on base and committed two errors. But it’s hard to not see it as a missed opportunity, especially with two men on and Polanco, Cruz and Rosario due up.
Berrios deals against the defending champs
But he locked in after that and went eight innings, giving up only five hits and striking out 10. He said he felt hitters were sitting on his breaking ball, so he and catcher Jason Castro decided to go with his 95 mph fastball.
“After the first inning, the catcher and I made some adjustments with the plan we had against the hitters,” he said. “They were looking for my slider, breaking ball — whatever they want to call it — so we changed it.”
He leaned more on his four-seam fastball than his two-seamer, and only gave up two hits after the first inning.
“I feel like I have big power on [the four-seamer],” he said, “so luckily my arm feels nice so I keep throwing them all night long, and that’s a good little pitch.”
Then, in the latter innings, he went back to the breaking ball.
“When the innings passed in the game, late, in the fifth, sixth innings, then we can use more of the breaking ball. We got them,” he said. “Then, they’re looking for the fastball, so that’s how we need to adjust with every pitch in this sport.”
Even after a good effort on a losing night, Berrios seemed to keep everything in perspective.
“I always thought if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, so tonight I had the chance to try to do that,” he said. “We don’t make it, but we have more opportunities to try to come through to do it.”
Even though they lost, the Twins looked like they could hang with Boston on Monday. And for Berrios, he did his job as the 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation with Jake Odorizzi — he just didn’t get the run support the Bombas usually provide.