MINNEAPOLIS -- Jose Berrios showed why he was named an All-Star for the first time in his career, throwing seven strong innings, while Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar showed why they're also deserving of All-Star consideration, helping spark a seventh-inning comeback to lift the Twins to a 3-1 win over
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jose Berrios showed why he was named an All-Star for the first time in his career, throwing seven strong innings, while Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar showed why they're also deserving of All-Star consideration, helping spark a seventh-inning comeback to lift the Twins to a 3-1 win over the Royals in the series opener Monday night at Target Field. It stretched Minnesota's win streak to five games while extending Kansas City's losing streak to 10 games.
Berrios, named the club's lone All-Star representative on Sunday, scattered six hits and a run with eight strikeouts to improve to 9-7 with a 3.41 ERA on the season. It looked like he was headed for a tough-luck loss before the Twins' offense woke up in the seventh against Kansas City's bullpen after lefty Danny Duffy threw six scoreless frames, with nine strikeouts.
"We stranded guys, but the pitch count got up there where after six pretty good innings, we got him out of the game, which was good for us," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We've gotta keep pushing. We talked about it when we got home to reset. Try to take advantage of the opportunity that the homestand presented. We're not quite halfway there yet, but we've just gotta keep trying to find ways to win. Starting pitching certainly helps."
Catcher Bobby Wilson started the rally with a leadoff double to left off sidearming lefty reliever Tim Hill before Joe Mauer singled to put runners at the corners with nobody out. Rosario tied the game with an RBI groundout on the ninth pitch of his at-bat after falling behind 0-2 in the count to score pinch-runner Jake Cave.
"I was not comfortable," Rosario said. "[Hill] has good stuff. Difficult for me. I wanted to try to put it in play, and I was fighting. I think I did a good job with the ground ball, and Cave got a good jump to home plate."
That set the stage for Escobar's go-ahead RBI single into center off right-hander Kevin McCarthy. Escobar was not a Final Vote candidate, but he leads the Majors with 35 doubles and could be a late replacement to the roster, given his versatility.
"Fifty-plus extra-base hits. That's what jumps out as well as where he's at in the doubles category," Molitor said. "Tough matchup for him with Duffy, then elevated fastballs from the right side [from McCarthy] for Esco is not his favorite thing. But he battled and got a couple hits."
Berrios didn't have his best stuff, but worked his way out of several jams, including one in the third inning after serving up back-to-back doubles to Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar to bring home the game's first run. Berrios escaped further trouble that inning and also got out of a jam in the fourth with two runners in scoring position and nobody out without allowing a run.
"I felt great today out there," said Berrios, who registered 15 swinging strikes. "My last two outings, I felt a little low on energy, a little tired. But today I felt better, and the game plan worked for us."
After hitting Mike Moustakas and issuing a double to Salvador Perez in the fourth, Berrios struck out Lucas Duda looking -- which prompted Royals manager Ned Yost to get ejected by home-plate umpire Will Little for arguing -- before getting helped by a nice play by Escobar at third base on a hard-hit grounder from Rosell Herrera. Gordon grounded out to first to end the frame.
"The big inning for him was after the hit batsman and then Perez's first-pitch ambush for the double there," Molitor said. "To get a strikeout, Escobar making a nice play, then getting off the field. Keeping it at one was really important to where the game was headed."
Mauer added an insurance run with an RBI single in the eighth, while relievers Trevor Hildenberger and closer Fernando Rodney each threw a scoreless inning to preserve the lead.
Rodney reached the 20-save plateau for the seventh time in his career and for the sixth time over the last seven seasons. He's just the sixth closer to reach 20 saves in a season after turning 41 years old, joining LaTroy Hawkins, Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley and Hoyt Wilhelm.
HE SAID IT
"I think he should be fine. If something happens between now and the end of his next start, if we have any concerns, we would alert somebody. But I think there's a good chance if he gets called on, he will be available." -- Molitor, on whether Berrios will be available to pitch in the All-Star Game on July 17 with his final start of the first half set to come on Saturday
Right-hander Aaron Slegers (1-0, 2.38 ERA) is set to make his second start of the year when the Twins host the Royals for Game 2 of the three-game series on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Slegers is coming off a strong outing against the Orioles, allowing one run on three hits over six innings to earn his first career win. The Royals are expected to start veteran righty Ian Kennedy.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.