MINNEAPOLIS — Jose Berrios demonstrated why the Minnesota Twins are surprise contenders for the postseason one year after losing 103 games.
Berrios pitched seven scoreless innings, Brian Dozier had four hits and Eddie Rosario homered twice as the Twins defeated the Chicago White Sox 11-1 on Wednesday night.
Berrios (12-6) tied a career high with 11 strikeouts, including seven of the last nine batters he faced. He walked one and gave up just four hits to win his seventh straight start at Target Field.
“I’m a competitor. I like striking out batters, and I like doing it as much as I did it today,” Berrios said through an interpreter. “It makes me feel accomplished, like I did a good job out on the mound.”
The Twins have used a 19-10 surge in August to climb into playoff position and pulled within a game of the Yankees for the AL’s top wild card spot.
Berrios has been a big part of Minnesota’s quick recovery from a pitiful 2016 campaign that included a team record for losses in a season. Last year Berrios was just getting his feet wet in the majors, going 3-7 with an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts. He began this season at Triple-A, but he’s been one of the Twins’ top two starters since he joined the big league club in May.
“To put together the season he has, given the fact that he wasn’t even here all year — he’s up to 12 wins and striking out almost a batter per inning, he’s keeping his walks down, batting average against, all the things you’re looking for,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Chicago’s only real threat came in the fourth, when Berrios hit Jose Abreu with a pitch, gave up a broken-bat single to Avisail Garcia and walked Omar Narvaez to load the bases with two outs. Berrios struck out Tim Anderson on three pitches, the last a 96-mph fastball, to escape the jam.
Berrios had strong command of three pitches, including a curveball that resulted in six strikeouts and a four-seam fastball that he threw past four hitters for strike three.
“He’s got options, and he’s learning how to use them,” Molitor said.
Mitch Garver and Ehire Adrianza each had three hits for the Twins. Adrianza tripled twice and drove in four runs, while Garver scored three runs and was a home run short of the cycle.
After Joe Mauer drove in Dozier with a double in the first inning, Rosario came up big in the third to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. With a runner on and two outs, Rosario lifted a fastball from Derek Holland (7-14) into a stiff breeze blowing in from left, and the ball just cleared the fence.
He left no doubt on his second homer, a blast to center field leading off the seventh against reliever Mike Pelfrey. It was Rosario’s third multi-homer game of the year and gave him a career-high 20 home runs on the season.
LOVE THE GLOVE
Mauer continued his Gold Glove-caliber play at first base with a handful of outstanding plays. He robbed Abreu of a hit with a leaping grab of a line drive in the first inning. Then he made a dive to his left, fielded a ground ball and made a backhanded flip to Berrios at the bag to retire Alen Hanson in the third.
Byron Buxton also chipped in with a defensive gem in the fifth inning, sprinting into the left-center field gap and leaping to snare Adam Engel’s line drive near the warning track.
“He is incredible,” said Berrios, who reacted with a fist pump after Buxton made the catch. “I think at this point Byron’s catches are almost routine — that’s what he does.”
HOLLAND’S HOUSE OF HORRORS
In his previous start, Holland held the Twins to one run over six innings, but he left Wednesday’s game after giving up five runs in five innings. In six career starts at Target Field he’s 0-5 with a 7.98 ERA.
“You’ve got to continue to battle against these guys,” Holland said. “After seeing these guys five days ago or six days ago, they made some adjustments and I didn’t quite make my adjustments when I needed to.”
Twins: Buxton left the game in the seventh inning when the Twins were leading 8-0, but it wasn’t just a case of getting some rest for a starting player. Molitor said Buxton felt a twinge after his hand came off the bat during a swing. He was being examined after the game.
White Sox: RHP Miguel Gonzalez (7-10, 4.30) has given up just four earned runs in his last 28 innings, cutting his ERA by nearly a full run. In his only start against the Twins this year he held them to two runs in six innings in a White Sox victory on April 8.
Twins: RHP Bartolo Colon (6-10, 6.35) is 4-1 with a 3.21 ERA in five August starts. He gave up just one run in 6 2/3 innings in a win over the Blue Jays in Toronto last Friday. He hasn’t faced the White Sox since he shut them out while pitching for the Oakland A’s on May 31, 2013.