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Berrios shows right stuff with 8 strong frames

Twins righty settles in to earn 7th win against White Sox
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jose Berrios' mindset changed when he walked back out to the mound in the top of the fourth.

The rookie right-hander simply took it upon himself to be more aggressive. The new approach paid off as Berrios spun eight innings of two-run ball in leading the Twins to a 4-2 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday night at Target Field.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Jose Berrios' mindset changed when he walked back out to the mound in the top of the fourth.

The rookie right-hander simply took it upon himself to be more aggressive. The new approach paid off as Berrios spun eight innings of two-run ball in leading the Twins to a 4-2 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday night at Target Field.

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"I didn't want them to score more runs, so I tried to be more aggressive with the hitters," Berrios said. "I threw more quality pitches, and that's what I did the rest of the game."

After using 49 pitches to get through the first three innings, Berrios logged 48 over his following five frames. He allowed two runs on three hits before the fourth, while giving up just one hit from that point on.

Only two batters reached -- one via a fielding error -- from the fourth inning on. At one point, Berrios sat down 12 straight. He also recorded six of his eight strikeouts over the final 15 outs.

And in a lot of ways, it was a microcosm of his own growth from last season. Berrios has been more aggressive with hitters and trusting his stuff.

"I changed my mentality," Berrios said. "Last year, I gave a lot of credit to the hitters. This year, I don't think about them. I don't care who is hitting, I just think about my pitches."

Berrios (7-1, 2.67 ERA) has pitched a career-best eight innings in two straight starts. In fact, he has been on the mound during the eighth in four starts this season after tossing six-plus innings just once over his 14 outings in 2016.

Across the board, Berrios is pitching much better. Entering Wednesday, his strikeout rate (24.7) was up seven percent while his walk rate (7.7) is down almost five percent. He recorded 14 swinging strikes against the White Sox and struck out the side in the fourth following a fielding error to begin the inning.

Video: CWS@MIN: Molitor on Twins' offense, Berrios' outing

"He probably felt some of the pressure [last year]," manager Paul Molitor said. "Our season was going awry and he was trying to be one of those guys. The harder he tried, the more difficult the results were to come by."

This year, the Twins are 15-7 when Ervin Santana or Berrios starts compared to their 21-26 clip when any other rotation member takes the mound.

Which is why it's gotten to the point that the Twins expect to win when Berrios is on the mound. Something that would have seemed improbable just one season ago.

"When you see a guy like that put his heart in the game, you want to put your heart in it too," said third baseman Miguel Sano, whose 18th homer sparked a key three-run third inning.

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.

Minnesota Twins, Jose Berrios