Jose Berrios' ability to pitch his way out of trouble was again tested against the Red Sox on Monday, and while he showed poise by limiting damage early and was locked in a pitchers' duel with Boston ace Chris Sale, he was ultimately undone by leaving two runners on in
Jose Berrios' ability to pitch his way out of trouble was again tested against the Red Sox on Monday, and while he showed poise by limiting damage early and was locked in a pitchers' duel with Boston ace Chris Sale, he was ultimately undone by leaving two runners on in the seventh.
The right-hander survived a rocky first inning, lasting 6 1/3 frames and surrendering four runs on eight hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. It was a strong effort, but the offense couldn't back him and the bullpen allowed two inherited runners to score in a 4-1 loss in the series opener at Fenway Park. Berrios fell to 7-2 with a 2.98 ERA, suffering his first loss since May 30.
"You've always got questions about composure," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We're all really confident that he's on a good track. He came in and gave us every opportunity to win a game in Fenway against Chris Sale. That should help, not that he wasn't already pretty confident in what he was doing."
Berrios immediately found himself in trouble, giving up back-to-back singles to open the first, despite getting ahead of both hitters. He induced a big double play from Xander Bogaerts, which brought home a run, but saved another, as Mitch Moreland homered in the next at-bat.
After a single and a walk followed Moreland's home run, Berrios appeared to be on the ropes, but he escaped the jam with the help of left fielder Eddie Rosario, who made a nice catch to end the inning.
"I was throwing the ball almost in the middle of the plate, and they're good hitters," Berrios said. "They make good contact, and obviously I figured I couldn't keep doing that if I wanted to last in the game. So I made the adjustments that I needed to and I was able to get stronger."
Berrios rode the momentum from there, retiring 13 of the next 14 batters before Moreland singled with one out in the sixth. Berrios issued a walk, but then recovered with a strikeout before getting Jackie Bradley Jr. to fly out to center.
"That's one of the better pitchers we've faced this year," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Power stuff. We were able to get some fastballs up in the strike zone early on. I know he's in the early part of his career, but good pitchers, you've got to get them early. He settled in."
With Berrios at 93 pitches entering the seventh after a 25-pitch sixth, Molitor decided to stick with him, but the righty gave up a leadoff single to Sandy Leon on a 2-1 changeup. Mookie Betts hit a bloop single with one out, which knocked Berrios from the game. And the bullpen, which was so key in the three-game sweep over the Indians, couldn't stop the bleeding, as Matt Belisle and Player Page for Buddy Boshers allowed both inherited runners to score, which essentially sealed the game.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and listen to his podcast.