Berrios sharp as Twins rough up Greinke, D-backs
MINNEAPOLIS — Jose Berrios walked Jake Lamb and was staring at Paul Goldschmidt in the batter’s box; the first inning on the precipice of spinning out of control as it had too often in recent starts.
This time, Berrios locked in and the Minnesota Twins’ second-year right-hander struck out Goldschmidt to end the inning.
Full of confidence after the strikeout and armed with a dominating fastball, Berrios posted seven scoreless innings, and Minnesota exploded for five runs in the fourth inning against Zack Greinke to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-0 on Saturday.
“I don’t like giving walks,” Berrios said. “So, when the next hitter came up, to get him out, it was huge. They’re both having great seasons, so being able to get them out was good. It gave me a lot of energy and put me back into the game.”
Joe Mauer had three hits, a walk and an RBI, and Brian Dozier added a pair of hits as the Twins (62-59) maintained a spot as one of the American League wild-card teams with their third straight victory.
Berrios (11-5) allowed two hits and struck out seven batters, lowering his ERA to 3.99 in a strong sophomore season.
“To imagine where he is now compared to a year ago, it’s just leaps and bounds in terms of how he handles adversity in the game and bouncing back from starts that maybe aren’t as good as others,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “Tonight was as good and clean and crisp as you want a guy to be. Velocity was there; got some really good hitters out in tough situations.”
Berrios was 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in his previous four starts, and had given up five runs in the first inning in each of his last two outings. But working with two extra days of rest after the Twins had a mid-week rainout, Berrios had his second outing of at least seven innings and no runs allowed this season.
“If there was a first-inning hurdle, he leaped over it and he just seemed to get stronger,” Molitor said. “I really thought him establishing his fastball, holding on to that changeup probably until the mid-innings for the most part. He was solid all the way through.”
Greinke (14-6) lasted only four innings, giving up five runs (four earned), seven hits and a season high-tying four walks. He struck out four. It was the shortest outing of the season for Greinke and the first time he hasn’t reached the fifth inning since Aug. 14, 2016, a span of 33 starts.
Greinke, who was 6-1 with a 2.78 ERA in his previous nine starts, was in trouble early. He gave up a leadoff single to Dozier and walked two batters to load the bases, but got out of the inning with two flyouts to third.
“He was throwing some quality pitches just off the edge of the plate and they were grinding out their at-bats,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “From what I could tell, they look like a team that’s pretty locked in right now offensively, so it made it tough on Zach. He’s our No. 1, he’s our ace, and they wore him down and waited for the mistakes, and that was the key.”
The Twins got to Greinke in the third after Daniel Descalso’s error at second base. Eddie Rosario led off with a single and Eduardo Escobar hit a groundball to second. Descalso tried to scoop the ball quickly and tag Rosario, who was running by. The ball bounced away from Descalso and the inning got away from Greinke.
Minnesota had five hits in the inning. Greinke walked No. 9 hitter Jason Castro with the bases loaded. Dozier brought in one run on an infield single. Max Kepler added a two-run single and Mauer plated Dozier with a single.
“I haven’t done a good job figuring out the answer,” Greinke said of his performance. “I’ve been trying to figure it out but don’t have an answer really for it.”
NOTES: Minnesota DH Miguel Sano left the game with left lower leg shin soreness. He was replaced in the seventh inning by Mitch Garver, who made his major league debut and struck out. ... Arizona announced that LHP Robbie Ray (concussion disabled list) would rejoin the rotation this week. Ray will start Thursday. Taijuan Walker will start Monday, followed by Patrick Corbin and Zach Godley. ... Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo announced that LHP T.J. McFarland would come out of the bullpen and start Sunday’s finale. RHP Braden Shipley was also recalled from Triple-A with the team optioning RHPs J.J. Hoover and Silvino Bracho after the game. ... Twins manager Paul Molitor announced that RHP Tim Melville will be recalled to start one game of Monday’s doubleheader in Chicago with RHP Dillon Gee starting the other. ... Arizona RF J.D. Martinez was back in the lineup after missing one game with an illness.