TORONTO -- Jose Berrios showed why he was a first-time All-Star this season, turning in an impressive outing against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.Berrios, coming off a scoreless inning in the Midsummer Classic, tossed seven dominant innings with nine strikeouts to lift the Twins to a
TORONTO -- Jose Berrios showed why he was a first-time All-Star this season, turning in an impressive outing against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.
Berrios, coming off a scoreless inning in the Midsummer Classic, tossed seven dominant innings with nine strikeouts to lift the Twins to a 5-0 win. The performance helped Minnesota to a series victory after getting swept by the Royals coming out of the break. The Twins trail the first-place Indians by 7 1/2 games in the American League Central with exactly a week until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"Every time out there I learn, I take the experience in my career as a person and a pitcher," Berrios said. "When I go out there, I always have fun. Now, I feel I'm having more fun. I feel more mature. I feel good when I go out there."
Even if the Twins decide to sell, they can count on Berrios as an emerging ace who remains under team control through 2022, as he improved to 10-7 with a 3.48 ERA. He scattered four hits and a walk while registering 13 swinging strikes, including 10 from his curveball.
"It's one start, but he looked refreshed," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "The velocity ticked up right away out of the chute -- first pitch, 94 [mph]. He kept it. He used his fastball a lot. His breaking ball early, it was breaking so much he had trouble knowing where to start it to keep it in the zone. But he started to get a better feel."
Berrios ran into a jam in the second after Yangervis Solarte dropped in a bloop double and Kendrys Morales singled with one out. But Berrios struck out Russell Martin and Randal Grichuk to get out unscathed. He also helped himself with a nice defensive play, turning a 1-4-3 double play in the sixth to end the inning.
"Second-inning trouble there, with the bloop double and the base hit by Morales, and he got a couple of punchouts," Molitor said. "After that, it was just kind of full speed ahead."
The offense was mostly quiet against rookie lefty Ryan Borucki, but they were helped by an error from Teoscar Hernandez in left, as he dropped a fly ball from Joe Mauer to open the sixth, which allowed Mauer to reach second. Mauer eventually scored on a sacrifice fly from James Dozier before Eduardo Escobar and Robbie Grossman connected on back-to-back doubles. The runs were unearned because of the error.
"Offensively, we had trouble getting going, but we found a way to score a couple there," Molitor said. "Thought the back-to-back doubles for the insurance run was big."
Minnesota padded the lead in the eighth with a three-run homer from Escobar off reliever John Axford. Escobar jumped all over a 3-2 curveball -- after seeing six straight fastballs -- for his 15th homer of the year and his first since July 8.
"He threw a lot of fastballs and a lot of cutters before that," Escobar said through an interpreter. "I was just trying to hit the ball hard to the middle. And he [hung] that one, and I connected."
Escobar leads the Majors with 37 doubles this season and is on pace for 61, which would break the club record of 47 doubles set by Justin Morneau in 2008. Earl Webb holds the Major League record with 67 doubles, set in '31 with the Red Sox. Only six players have ever hit 60 doubles, and none have done it since '36.
HE SAID IT
"It's a little difficult to hear those rumors going around. But I believe in God, and I have a lot of confidence in my abilities. I have no control over those things. The only thing I can control is that when I suit up, I work hard for my team." -- Escobar, on possibly being traded if the Twins sell
Right-hander Ervin Santana will make his long-awaited season debut on Wednesday at 3:07 p.m. CT at Rogers Centre after being out of action because of surgery on his right middle finger in early February. Santana posted a 3.28 ERA in 211 1/3 innings last year and is working to regain his velocity. The Blue Jays will start right-hander Sam Gaviglio (2-3, 4.59 ERA).
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.