Big win marred by Kepler, Arraez injuries

Berríos delivers 'fantastic start from beginning to end'

September 3rd, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Donaldson clubbed a pair of hits in his first two plate appearances back from injury, a healthy Byron Buxton and active Michael Pineda watched from the bench, José Berríos looked like his formidable self again and the Twins opened up a big lead against the White Sox.

For several moments, all was -- at last -- blissfully well for the Twins.

Then, suffered left groin tightness as he scored from first on a double, limped across home plate and failed to emerge from the dugout. Several innings later, developed a pronounced limp as he reached first base on an error and took himself out of the game with left patellar soreness. The Twins had their swagger back, won big, 8-1, and claimed an important series against the then-first-place White Sox, but the extent of the renewed injury toll remains to be seen.

Two big steps forward; potentially one big step back.

“We don’t know enough right now on either guy to say anything definitively,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’re going to wait and see before we can say anything else. For both guys, I think these are injuries that we can manage and/or won’t keep them off the field for very long. I don’t see either of them as a long-term concern this year.”

After missing more than a month with a right calf strain, Donaldson made a triumphant return to the lineup with a 95.9 mph single up the middle in his first at-bat and a two-run double at 103.8 mph in the second inning that gave the Twins an early 3-0 lead. Jake Cave, Miguel Sanó and Eddie Rosario all went deep in Minnesota’s first three-homer game since Aug. 12, powering a much-needed victory.

"We have been trying to have that fun, that motivation every day,” Berríos said. “We got a rough road trip, but that is part of the baseball. We got Pineda yesterday and Buxton, and today, we got Donaldson. They come to the clubhouse and regroup with us and try to do what we do, have fun and do our work, and you can see it last night and tonight."

Berríos had again been wild in his last start, when he issued four walks against Cleveland, but he was as sharp as ever on Wednesday, allowing only three hits and one run across six innings, with eight strikeouts and two walks against the dangerous Chicago lineup. He generated 20 swings-and-misses, matching the second highest total of his career.

“It was a fantastic start from beginning to end from him, something we really needed,” Baldelli said. “I think it meant a lot to him to be able to do it for himself, but also for the team and for his teammates. I think this start meant a lot to him, and we're very happy and very proud with what he was able to do going out there.”

But at what cost?

Kepler singled against the shift in his first at-bat against White Sox starter Reynaldo López before reaching on an error by second baseman Nick Madrigal in the second inning. He scored from first on Donaldson's two-run double but appeared to have developed a noticeable limp by the time he crossed home plate.

Arraez appeared to experience some discomfort during his sixth-inning plate appearance against reliever Jimmy Cordero, and that became clear as he ran to first base on a fielding error by left fielder Eloy Jiménez. Arraez developed a pronounced limp as he reached base and didn't even wait to be attended to by Baldelli and an athletic trainer before he made a beeline for the dugout. Baldelli said it appeared to be a continuation of Arraez’s persistent knee issues.

Marwin González replaced Kepler in right field to begin the third inning, and Ehire Adrianza replaced Arraez at second base. Coupled with all of that, backup catcher Alex Avila had already been scratched from the starting lineup with low back tightness.

“It's always hard, but we always have ways to pivot,” Baldelli said. “We always have guys that we're going to lean on when that's going to happen. It's not a matter of, really, if -- it's going to happen. It's just a matter of when and the circumstances, so it's great to get the Donaldsons and the Bucks and the Pinedas back, but to think that we weren't going to deal with any other health-related issues this year would be beyond wishful thinking.”