Jose Berrios suffers another short start in Twins loss to Texas

September 2, 2018

ARLINGTON, TEXAS It sure looks like Jose Berrios has hit a wall.

The Twins righthander posted his fifth consecutive short start on Saturday, leaving in the fourth inning of the Twins 7-4 loss to the Rangers after just four innings during which he gave up three of the Rangers four home runs. It continues a troubling trend during which Berrios now has a 6.65 ERA over his last five outings. The three home runs , to Nomar Mazara, Ronald Guzman and Adrian Beltre, tie a season high set July 4 at Milwaukee.

Since Aug. 4, Berrios hasnt pitched more than five innings. That also was the last time he threw over 100 pitches, 106 to be exact.

The Twins led 2-0 in the second - one of the runs coming on a 443-foot homer to right by Jake Cave - when the Rangers struck for four runs. Mazara led off the inning with a homer to center. After walking Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo, catcher Mitch Garver when to the mound for a chat. The very next pitch was a belt high fastball to Guzman, who parked it in the seats in right for a three-run homer and a 4-2 lead.

Berrios gave up a homer to Adrian Beltre in the fourth - on a curveball that did nothing but wait to get hit - that made it 5-2.

Berrios has thrown 1672/3 innings this season, short of the career high 1912/3 he threw last season between the Twins, Class AAA Rochester and during the World Baseball Classic. Granted, gametime temperature was 92 degrees and hes coming off of an outing on Sunday during which he was under the weather.

But the last two starts, combined with three before that - he did give up one run over five rain-shortened innings against the White Sox on Aug. 21 - is not a good look for someone who pitched in the All-Star Game this season.

The Twins scored runs in the fifth and the eighth but got no closer. Joe Mauer and Jake Cave each had two hits for the Twins.

Opener day

The spotlight was on the starting pitcher the day he pitched. A few years ago, he would pick the music being played in the clubhouse before the game. More recently, he would pick his preferred jersey since teams began adding alternate tops.

He would even pick the postgame establishment to visit.

Zack Littell claims the persona of the starting pitcher and the attention he commands will not change as the wave of openers appears be headed closer at least as far as the Twins are concerned.

At [Class AAA Rochester], it was very like, Youre the starter. Youre still the guy,  Littell said Saturday. No offense to any of the guys who are going to open, but no one is going to look back and be like, Wow, he carried the team to the win right there. The starter is going to go six, seven innings. And he is going to do the bulk of the work. I dont think that changes at all.

He will try to show that Sunday. Lefthander Gabriel Moya will start Sunday and pitch up to two innings before Littell replaces him and, the Twins hope, gets them into the final innings.

The Twins are believed to be the second team other than Tampa Bay to use an opener, instead of a traditional starter. Oakland tried it Saturday night, with former Twins righthander Liam Hendriks facing Seattle.

The Rays have had success with the practice, as their first-inning ERA of 3.20 is third best and well under the league average of 4.65. It has helped their starters, as the group is up to sixth in baseball with a 3.67 ERA.

The Twins have tried it in the minors. At Rochester, the starter who has followed the opener is 4-2 with a 2.22 ERA the nine times they have tried it. Littell has followed the opener three times, and he believes in the numbers.

All of it makes sense, said Littell, 0-2 with an 18.90 ERA in his only two appearances with the Twins. They showed us, whether it was ERA for the first inning and the fifth inning, how ERAs improved when starters didnt face the third time through the lineup, the top three guys. It all made sense. The data is there. I just think were going to start seeing it more and more.

Twins manager Paul Molitor informed the Rangers that it will be a good chance Moya will open and Littell will follow. In the future, they wont signal who will follow, for strategic reasons.

The Twins held a meeting with the pitchers Saturday to go over their plans.

I told our guys, Molitor said. They asked about how much notice theyre going to have if theyre asked to open a game and I said I would hope to give you a little indication, a heads-up, but there probably wont be confirmation on most days until the previous nights game is completed.


 Left fielder Eddie Rosario received treatment on his sore right quad and remains out indefinitely. I dont think theres been any more determination in terms of speculation of length, Molitor said. Probably hear from Tony [trainer Tony Leo] once he goes through a little testing and treatment of where he thinks the progress is headed.

 Class AAA Rochester announced that reliever John Curtiss will sing the national anthem before Sundays game.

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