MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins haven't had a true ace since Johan Santana left the club after the 2007 season, but they're hopeful 24-year-old Jose Berrios can develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter.So it was fitting that on the same night Santana was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame that Berrios
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins haven't had a true ace since Johan Santana left the club after the 2007 season, but they're hopeful 24-year-old Jose Berrios can develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter.
So it was fitting that on the same night Santana was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame that Berrios took the mound and threw seven strong innings in leading Minnesota to an 8-2 win over the Royals on Saturday night at Target Field. Berrios, an All-Star for the first time this season, allowed two runs on five hits and three walks with six strikeouts to improve to 11-8 with a 3.51 ERA.
"I was happy to see that out there, the Twins honoring a great player and putting him in the Twins Hall of Fame -- it's inspiring," Berrios said through an interpreter. "So I went out there and did my thing."
Berrios had one rough inning -- issuing three walks to load the bases in the third -- and he gave up a two-run single to Alex Gordon before escaping the jam. Otherwise, Berrios was efficient, getting through seven innings on 106 pitches, with 70 going for strikes.
"He told me after the game, the way things are, he wanted a complete game tonight," manager Paul Molitor said. "I think he wants one every time he's out there. And the way he started, it looked like it might be feasible. He ran into trouble there. A couple close calls could have gone either way."
Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Logan Morrison homered to lead the offense with Rosario connecting on a solo shot off Burch Smith in the first and Kepler smacking a two-run shot off Smith in the fourth inning. It was homer No. 20 for Rosario and No. 14 for Kepler. Kepler went 3-for-3 in his first three-hit game since April 30.
"We don't want guys to try to step up and be Superman," Molitor said. "It's just understand that you go out there and bring what you can bring. It's just about the energy and showing up each day. Rosie got us started and Kep had a really nice night all around the field."
The Twins kept tacking on runs, scoring in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Rosario, twice more in the sixth on an RBI double from John Forsythe and an RBI groundout from Bobby Wilson before Morrison crushed a two-run homer in the seventh. Morrison's blast off reliever Glenn Sparkman had an exit velocity of 110.9 mph and traveled a projected 442 feet, according to Statcast™, to right field. It was the second-longest homer of the Twins season, trailing only a 443-foot homer by Eduardo Escobar on June 1.
"Logan's was probably the best ball we've seen him hit this year," Molitor said. "He turned around good velocity there."
Santana, who won two American League Cy Young Awards during his eight years in Minnesota, became the 31st member of the Twins Hall of Fame during a pregame ceremony. It featured speeches by Torii Hunter and Santana, while several of Santana's former teammates were in attendance such as Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Brad Radke, Juan Rincon, Luis Rivas, J.C. Romero and Cristian Guzman. In a memorable moment, Santana was scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to his son, Johan Jr., but said it would mean more to him with his son throwing the pitch to him instead.
It was a very nice ceremony," Molitor said. "It's always nice to see the group that joins him out on the field, have so many of his former teammates come back. And then to honor Johan in that fashion -- you could tell the passion that he had, talking through his lists of people he wanted to express gratitude for."
DRAKE MAKES HISTORY
Right-handed reliever Oliver Drake made his Twins debut in the ninth, which marked the fifth team he's played for this season to set a Major League record. Drake threw a 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout of Brett Phillips looking on a splitter. More >
"It's nice just get back to playing baseball," Drake said. "That's been the toughest thing this year. I've had so much time just kind of in limbo where you can't do anything. I think my catch partner for the whole time has been a fence back home. So like it's just nice to get back out there and playing baseball, throwing to hitters and competing. Then to come in, get a win with the team and be able to throw up a zero in my first outing tonight. It's a good first step."
HE SAID IT
"It's definitely cool having all the jerseys. That's going to be something that, looking back, will be a cool collection. I don't know if it'll be something I brag about. It'll definitely be a neat story, especially down the line after the baseball career with kids, grandkids or anything, and they'll see six jerseys I have know that are framed. My wife keeps joking that we should have them put up year-by-year and we should have one year with all five jerseys." -- Drake, on his record
Twins right-hander Ervin Santana (0-0, 6.10 ERA) will start the series finale against the Royals at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday at Target Field. Santana is making his third start of the season after undergoing surgery on his right middle finger in early February. He's working to regain his velocity, as his average velocity is down roughly 3 mph compared to last year. Lefty Danny Duffy (7-9, 4.50) starts for Kansas City.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.