MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-hander Jose Berrios emphatically punched his glove as he walked off the mound in the moments after striking out Paul Goldschmidt to end the first inning.It was quite a feat for Berrios, who had struggled in the opening frame in his previous two outings, in what culminated
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-hander Jose Berrios emphatically punched his glove as he walked off the mound in the moments after striking out Paul Goldschmidt to end the first inning.
It was quite a feat for Berrios, who had struggled in the opening frame in his previous two outings, in what culminated into a gem. Berrios spun seven frames of two-hit ball to help push Minnesota past Arizona, 5-0, on Saturday at Target Field.
The Twins have won three straight, including two straight over the D-backs, and are tied with the Angels for the second American League Wild Card spot.
"We knew going in that it was a good team in a good division," Berrios said. "We knew it was going to be a duel. So we went into the game attacking fastball, inside and outside."
But for a brief moment, Berrios' recent issues began to resurface.
In each of his previous two outings, Berrios had allowed five runs in the first inning, which was last done by Zach Britton in 2011. This time around, Berrios retired the first two batters, including a strikeout with his fastball to David Peralta.
Berrios then gifted first base to Jake Lamb following a nine-pitch at-bat, setting up a crucial test against Goldschmidt.
"I gave up that walk to Lamb; I don't like giving walks," Berrios said.
Berrios bounced back and got Goldschmidt to swing through a fastball to end the seven-pitch at-bat. Berrios punched his glove in triumph, and faced few troubling situations the rest of the night.
Arizona managed two hits across him, both of which came over the next two frames. Following a double by A.J. Pollock in the third, Berrios sat down the final 13 batters he faced.
"You would think you would feel pretty good walking off the mound with a zero," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "I didn't ask him about [the first-inning problems]. I didn't want to make an issue out of it. I just let him go about his business."
Berrios, who pitched on two extra days of rest, recorded a career-best 24 called strikes, besting his previous mark of 23 set July 19 against the Yankees. Berrios whiffed seven, his most since he posted seven at Boston on June 26.
It was another big step for Berrios, who continues to display the massive growth he has experienced since his rookie season. A positive sign for a rotation that appears to be improving in the heat of a postseason race.
"We are trending in a good way, as far as our rotation goes," Molitor said.
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.