MINNEAPOLIS -- After scuffling through four subpar starts, Jose Berrios turned it around against the Cardinals, finding his curveball again while striking out 10 over 7 1/3 strong innings, and was backed offensively by Byron Buxton's speed and a two-run homer from Bobby Wilson in a 4-1 win on Tuesday
MINNEAPOLIS -- After scuffling through four subpar starts, Jose Berrios turned it around against the Cardinals, finding his curveball again while striking out 10 over 7 1/3 strong innings, and was backed offensively by Byron Buxton's speed and a two-run homer from Bobby Wilson in a 4-1 win on Tuesday night at Target Field.
Berrios, who had an 8.84 ERA over his last four starts and didn't register any swinging strikes with his curveball against the Angels on Thursday, had much better command and recorded nine swinging strikes with his curve and 16 overall. Berrios worked on his curveball during his bullpen session this week, aiming to correct his arm speed while throwing the pitch.
"That was the Berrios everybody in this room is used to seeing," Wilson said. "That stuff was front of the line stuff right there. His breaking ball was sharp and it broke late. Had some good changeups, but I think overall, his fastball command was just much better."
The lone run Berrios surrendered came in the third after allowing a leadoff single on a curve to Harrison Bader, who was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single from Carson Kelly. Kelly's single came on a 3-1 fastball, as Berrios worked to establish it early in the game. Berrios threw nothing but fastballs until throwing his curve to Jedd Gyorko with one out in the second, throwing just eight curveballs through his first three innings.
"The reality is I wasn't happy with those last four starts and my mindset wasn't right," Berrios said through an interpreter. "I came back to the basics and I worked hard for this outing and the result was there."
The offense was quiet early against Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty, not scoring until the sixth after being shut out by the Mariners in Monday's 1-0 loss. Eduardo Escobar came through with a two-out RBI single off Flaherty to tie the game after singles from James Dozier and Eddie Rosario.
"Esco's was kind of an icebreaker for us," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It had been a lot of innings since we had scored back in Anaheim. So it just kind of opened the gates."
Minnesota took the lead in the seventh against lefty reliever Brett Cecil with Logan Morrison sparking the rally with a double off the base of the right-field wall. Buxton dropped down a bunt against right-hander Luke Gregerson, but utilized his speed to beat out the play and force Gregerson to rush his throw to first, which sailed into right to bring home the go-ahead run.
After Buxton advanced to third on a pitch in the dirt, Wilson came up huge with his first homer with the Twins this season. Wilson was looking for a pitch to drive to the outfield to score Buxton and connected on a hanging slider for a two-run shot after fouling off a bunt attempt.
"I haven't even been close to a slider for the past few days," Wilson said. "We made some adjustments. I actually hit one off the end of the bat my previous at-bat, which was a big stepping stone for me to get to that next at-bat."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Buxton's speed kills: Buxton is the fastest player in the Majors yet again this year with an average sprint speed of 30.5 feet per second despite nursing a hairline fracture in his left big toe. Buxton reached first in 3.73 seconds on his bunt, which was his fastest time to first this season. He also reached 31.7 per second, which is well above the mark of 30 feet per second that is considered elite by Statcast™.
"It doesn't always take that perfect bunt to get on base so I put that in the back of my head," Buxton said. "I was just trying to make sure I got that bunt down."
The Twins are 3-0 against the Cardinals this year and have outscored them by a 17-2 margin.
"I don't think there's a way to come up with logic in terms of the outcomes with the lopsided total score," Molitor said. "But it doesn't reflect the closeness of the games, or at least two of the three."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Right fielder Max Kepler made a great leaping catch up against the right-field wall to rob Jose Martinez of extra bases to end the top of the ninth. Kepler was playing deep, but got to the rocket from Martinez that had an exit velocity of 101.6 mph at a launch angle of 23 degrees, giving it a hit percentage of 83 percent.
HE SAID IT
"I think it was a combination of both better depth and lateral [movement]. I didn't see many that were left middle, middle in to those righties that have been problematic for him for the last few starts. He was getting it out and away and extended and getting some swings and misses with two strikes." -- Molitor, on Berrios' curve
The two-game series against the Cardinals comes to a close on Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. CT at Target Field. Right-hander Lance Lynn (1-3, 7.34) is set to face his former team for the first time since joining the Twins on a one-year, $12 million deal in Spring Training. Lynn is off to the worst start of his career and gave up four runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Angels his last time out. Right-hander Miles Mikolas (5-0, 2.51 ERA) starts for St. Louis.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.