BOSTON — Standing behind Jose Berrios in center field was Max Kepler to begin the first inning. Jake Cave was placed in right. That wouldn’t be out of the ordinary, except that Rocco Baldelli had put Cave in center and Kepler in right on the lineup card to begin the game.
“It was a miscommunication,” said Baldelli, cracking a smile after a tough 6-2 Minnesota Twins loss to the Boston Red Sox. “The day before, there was one piece of information that was in the clubhouse, one piece of paper where they started the game, and they happened to see that yesterday.
“You don’t really survey the field and go over the lineup card to make sure everyone is playing [in the right spot]. So, you know, we all realized it as we looked up and Kep was fielding the ball in the first inning.”
It didn’t matter where Kepler and Cave were standing after the first pitch was thrown, however, because Mookie Betts deposited it over the Green Monster practically seconds after the game had started. By the time Betts hit his second home run off Berrios, Cave was in center and Kepler was in right field.
“Two pitches, two homers. He hit them obviously. We all know that,” said Berrios through an interpreter after the game. “I missed location with those and basically those were the only ones that did and those were the runs. We fell behind. But after that I felt good and I felt like I threw good pitches.”
Everything seemed normal for him after an August where he saw his velocity dip and his ERA skyrocket to 7.57. He was throwing his fastball between 93 and 95 mph most of the night, and located his off-speed stuff for the most part. But he gave up eight hits and six runs while walking three and striking out six in only five innings against a tough Red Sox lineup.
“His stuff was good tonight,” said Baldelli. “He did miss bats and his velocity was good. There were some swings and misses on the breaking ball, on the changeups. He showed all the things that he can do. He made probably a couple of pitches and the ball wasn’t where he wanted it and they were hit. That’s really what it comes down to.”
“Right now I’m missing a few pitches here and there, like today, and in reality we’re not making any big changes or anything like that,” said Berrios. “It’s just going out there and trying to locate my pitches better for last time.”
He appeared calm while addressing the media and has the backing of his manager. But the Twins are going to need him at his best if they’re going to do anything in the postseason. His velocity was there on Wednesday, but his curveball location was an issue.
Berrios pointed out that he’s dominated Betts in the past, and that he’s a good player and had a good night at the plate. But it wasn’t just Betts. He gave up a single to Brock Holt, walked Mitch Moreland and gave up an RBI single to Christian Vazquez in the 5th inning and was pulled without recording an out.
In some ways Berrios’ start was encouraging, especially because he pitches significantly better when his fastball is thrown at 95 mph as opposed to 92 mph. But ultimately the Twins’ All-Star pitcher gave up six runs and put Minnesota behind early.