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Twins’ Tyler Austin provides punch, but A’s supply more power

August 26, 2018

Jose Berrios has just over a month to finish strong, make a run at 15 wins and top off a season in which he appeared in his first All-Star Game.

But, right now, hes in a skid, a skid that is threatening to make his first full major league season not the smash hit it was trending to be.

Berrios again fought his control and ran out of gas in the middle innings as the Twins were blasted by the As 6-2 on Sunday as Oakland took three of four games of the series at Target Field. Berrios did what he could with what he had, leaving the game down 3-1 after five innings. Oakland then went to work on the Twins bullpen, hitting three home runs over a span of 24 Matt Magill pitches.

Tyler Austin hit solo home runs in the fourth and sixth innings, but the Twins offense found little traction elsewhere as Athletics righthander Chris Bassitt whose fastest pitch was 94 miles per hour and slowest pitch was 68 won for just the fifth time in 30 starts.

It was difficult to tell what was going on with Berrios in the first inning. His velocity was down a couple a miles an hour and he slumped at times after pitches. Pitching coach Garvin Alston went to the mound to check on him, but manager Paul Molitor and trainer Tony Leo were right behind him. They spoke to Berrios for a few moments before returning to the dugout.

Berrios resumed pitching. His fastball ranged from 89-92 miles per hour and he struggled with his control. His average was 93.2 mph entering the game, and he often hits 95 when hes going good.

A younger version of Berrios might have pitched himself into more harrowing situations without his top shelf stuff. On Sunday, he managed to hold the As to one run over the first four innings, a Matt Chapman home run in the first inning. And he did hit 94 on the gun once, when he blew a 1-2 fastball by Khris Davis with one on in the third.

Berrios entered the fifth with the game tied 1-1 thanks to a Tyler Austin homer that landed in Catch, the deck above the center field batters eye.

But Oakland came alive in the fifth. Nick Martini and Chapman hit back-to-back singles to put two on base for Jed Lowrie, who bashed a Berrios pitch over Jake Caves head and off the marine grade plywood section of the right field wall. Two runs scored as Cave retrieved the ball and threw it to Logan Forsythe who relayed to Miguel Sano at third in time to get Lowrie.

Berrios got the final two outs of the fifth, and that was all for him. It marked the fourth straight outing in which Berrios failed to pitch more than five innings. He gave up three runs over five innings on Sunday on eight hits while striking out four. Hes now 3-7 with a 4.94 ERA in day games, which is an issue he identified earlier this month. The bigger issue might be the wall hes currently hitting, as he is 0-1 with a 5.60 ERA over his last four starts.

Could fatigue be an issue? He threw a career-high 1861/3 innings between the majors and minors last season and is at 1632/3 this season. But Berrios is known to be a perpetual workout machine, to the point the Twins have wondered if he needs to taper his conditioning and offseason training at times.

I think hes a guy that hes so routine in his workouts, even here late in the season, that weve tried to talk to him about maintaining, but maybe backing off on some things that might lead to more potential fatigue, Twins manager Paul Molitor said before the game. Its that combination. You want to stay as fit as you can, but workload does compile over a long period of time.

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