MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins are plagued by severe pitching problems at every level, which places even more importance on Jose Berrios to develop into the star many think he can become.
After another clunker in the big leagues, manager Paul Molitor wondered whether that desperation is putting too much pressure on the 22-year-old’s shoulders.
Berrios lasted just 2 2/3 innings and the Twins lost 7-1 to the Cleveland Indians on Sunday. The Puerto Rican right-hander has been electric in the minor leagues, but erratic in his stints up with the big club to this point.
“You can watch the game and you can see that he’s either putting too much pressure on himself or having a hard time locating,” Molitor said.
Berrios (2-6) gave up five runs — three earned — and three hits, and his ERA ballooned to 9.27. He walked four and had an errant pickoff throw, leading Molitor to say after the game that they would consider pulling him from the rotation. Berrios said through an interpreter that he would do whatever the Twins wanted, but preferred to finish the season as a starter.
“This whole coaching staff and my teammates have given me their support and I’m the one that can’t seem to pull through,” Berrios said.
Corey Kluber (16-9) struck out 10 in seven innings and Carlos Santana hit a three-run homer for the Indians, who padded their AL Central lead over the Tigers to seven games.
Kluber (16-9) gave up an unearned run and four hits while passing the 200-strikeout mark for the third straight season. Bob Feller, Gaylord Perry and Jack McDowell are the only other Indians to accomplish that feat.
Kluber reached at least 10 strikeouts in a game for the third time this season and improved to 7-1 since the All-Star break. It was his 24th 10-strikeout game, tying him with Luis Tiant for fourth on Cleveland’s career list.
Molitor made it clear the Twins still have faith in Berrios, but he did think some time in the bullpen over the final three weeks might help him clear his head.
“I’m not concerned about him long term at this point,” Molitor said. “The hype is there. The talent is there. It’s just not that easy.”
COMEDY OF ERRORS
The Twins committed four errors, just one fewer than their hit total for the day. They entered with 110 errors, 22 more than the second-worst team in the AL, the Angels.
One of those errors was charged to first baseman James Beresford when a pickoff throw went through the webbing on his glove, but overall it was another sloppy game in that department. Eduardo Escobar missed a popup near the mound and Byron Buxton let a ball get by him in center field.
“Those are little things that add up,” Molitor said. “Four errors in a game won’t help your cause. We know our number of total errors this year is extremely high. It’s not good baseball when you’re not making more plays than that.”
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier has been on a historic power surge since the All-Star break, culminating in a run of homers in five straight games last week that pushed his total to 39 for the season. He has now gone four straight games without going deep. Dozier was 1 for 3 with a single and was hit by a pitch on Sunday, prompting Molitor to hit for him in the ninth inning.
Twins: One night after delivering a game-ending hit in the 12th inning, 1B Joe Mauer was given the day off. Molitor said Mauer is dealing with soreness in both quads and he likely will need to mix in more days off over the final three weeks of the season.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (11-7, 3.15 ERA) starts for the Indians when they open a four-game series in Chicago against RHP Miguel Gonzalez (3-6, 3.81) and the White Sox. Carrasco’s 2.02 ERA on the road is the best in the majors.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (7-10, 3.58 ERA) will start the opener of a four-game series in Detroit on Monday night. LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.94 ERA) gets the start for the Tigers.