Berrios turns in strong last start for Twins in sweep of Sox
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota’s pitching staff has finally caught up in the strikeout era, with Jose Berrios leading the way.
Berrios became the first Twins pitcher in eight years to reach 200 strikeouts, throwing seven smooth innings in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox in the first game of a doubleheader before Mitch Garver’s career-high six RBIs fueled a 12-4 victory for the sweep on Friday night.
Berrios finished his All-Star season with a career-best 3.84 ERA and 202 strikeouts. The last time a Twins pitcher topped that milestone was Francisco Liriano (201) in 2010, with Johan Santana (235) prior to that in 2007.
“That was one of my goals before the season started,” Berrios said. “That’s when I wrote it down, and I accomplished it and I’m thankful to God for that.”
Berrios (12-11) struck out nine batters , allowing just three hits and one run on Leury Garcia’s RBI single in the third. Berrios walked four, including Avisail Garcia to lead off the sixth, but he followed that by fanning Daniel Palka, Matt Davidson and Omar Narvarez in a 10-pitch span to finish the inning with his fastball buzzing.
“Pretty special kid,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Nice mix of pitches. Breaking ball was diving, sinking. He’s got a quick arm. Just kept us off balance.”
The Twins are 16th in the major leagues in strikeouts, after finishing next-to-last in 2017. From 2011 through 2015, they were last.
Though Berrios had a 4.15 ERA and just a 3-4 record in 12 starts after the All-Star break, the right-hander took another step toward being the ace at the top of the rotation the Twins have lacked since Santana was traded 11 years ago.
“I want to be one of the best pitchers in the league,” Berrios said. “I think I have the material to do that and to be the best pitcher on this team, so that Minnesota can construct around me and build a winning team.”
Reynaldo Lopez (7-10) turned in another strong start in the opener for the White Sox, save for matching his season high with five walks over six innings. Tyler Austin’s RBI groundout in the first and Willians Astudillo’s sacrifice fly in the sixth were all the Twins needed to take a game that was originally scheduled for the mid-April weekend when they had three straight games postponed by a snowstorm.
Joe Mauer, facing an offseason decision about whether or not to retire at age 35, went 2 for 4 in each game and is batting .362 (21 for 58) over his last 14 starts while reaching base at least once in each.
Astudillo has 16 RBIs in his last 15 games for the Twins, who improved to 47-32 at home. They’re 28-12 since June 24, the fifth-best record in MLB in that span.
The White Sox, who fell to 8-17 in September, would lose 100 games for the first time since 1970 if they don’t win Saturday or Sunday. They were 63-99 in 2013.
Garver went 4 for 5 with doubles to fuel Twins starter Chase DeJong (1-1) in his first major league victory with six strong innings, despite solo home runs by Jose Rondon and Kevan Smith. Robbie Grossman went 2 for 4 with three RBIs for the Twins.
Lucas Giolito (10-13) gave up seven runs in 1 1/3 innings for the White Sox, pushing his MLB-worst ERA to 6.13. Hector Santiago threw 97 pitches in relief, allowing seven hits, two walks and one hit batter in 4 2/3 innings.
“This leaves a bad taste in my mouth,” Giolito said. “Definitely a lot to work on in the offseason.”
The White Sox struck out 18 times during the doubleheader, raising their season total to an MLB-most 1,570. That’s also only one less than the all-time record last year by the Milwaukee Brewers. Yoan Moncada has the team lead with 215, followed by Davidson with 162.
Lopez logged 40 innings over his last six starts, with a sparkling 1.13 ERA and 41 strikeouts. The 24-year-old finished with a 3.91 ERA in 188 2/3 innings.
“I’m leaving this season in a much better way than how I entered the season,” Lopez said through a team interpreter. “I learned a lot.”
The last time the White Sox played in Minnesota, on Aug. 20, Renteria experienced light-headedness in the afternoon and was hospitalized overnight as a precaution. He wound up missing four games. As a thank-you to Hennepin County Medical Center staff for his care, Renteria sent popcorn and donated 200 tickets to children being treated at the facility.
White Sox: LF Nicky Delmonico, who hurt his shoulder on Tuesday, was a late addition to the second-game lineup in place of Adam Engel.
Twins: Garver made his first start in 17 games in the nightcap, after recovering from concussion symptoms.
“Peace of mind for myself and for the people that care about me,” Garver said.
White Sox: LHP Carlos Rodon (6-7, 3.61 ERA) will pitch in the third game of the series.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (9-13, 3.68 ERA) will start on Saturday night.