ANAHEIM -- It was the kind of situation that likely would've done in right-hander Jose Berrios during his rookie year last season.After walking Cliff Pennington to load the bases with nobody out in the fourth, and the Angels already up, 2-1, after an RBI single from Ben Revere, it looked
ANAHEIM -- It was the kind of situation that likely would've done in right-hander Jose Berrios during his rookie year last season.
After walking Cliff Pennington to load the bases with nobody out in the fourth, and the Angels already up, 2-1, after an RBI single from Ben Revere, it looked as though Berrios was in serious trouble. But he proved he's become much better at damage control this season, getting a strikeout and a double play to escape the jam unscathed, which turned out to be pivotal in Minnesota's 3-2 win over the Angels on Sunday.
It helped the 23-year-old turn in another strong performance, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts to improve to 4-1 with a 2.76 ERA in five starts since getting called up from Triple-A Rochester.
"He ran into that jam, but getting out of it was a big difference-maker in the final outcome," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You're always looking for things that can help you add to your maturity level as a pitcher. Whether it's pitching without your best stuff or getting out of a jam. He was on the verge of getting out of the game, but he got a couple more innings."
Last year, Berrios had trouble escaping jams, as hitters batted .295/.419/.464 against him with runners on base, and that was a major reason he finished with an 8.02 ERA. But this season, he's been much better at that, as batters are hitting only .182 with one double against him with runners on.
"My confidence has allowed me to feel more comfortable in those situations and get out of jams," Berrios said. "I know everything isn't going to be perfect, but I've been working hard and getting results."
Berrios was also helped by a mound visit from pitching coach Neil Allen after loading the bases, giving Berrios a chance to catch his breath with Allen noting that the balls weren't exactly crushed. The three hits he allowed that inning had below-average exit velocities of 91.5 mph, 77.6 mph and 82.9 mph.
"The hits weren't hit too hard and were on good pitches so I was able to forget about them," Berrios said. "I was lucky enough to get out of it."
Berrios also showed his escape-artist skills in the third, when the Angels had runners at first and third with nobody out, getting Andrelton Simmons to ground into a run-scoring double play to limit the damage.
"With first and third, there's not a whole lot you can do," Berrios said. "You can try to strike the guy out but I wanted to make a good pitch for a ground ball. So it was good."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and listen to his podcast.