Berrios scoreless streak comes to an end against Yanks
NEW YORK—Twins right-hander Jose Berrios, riding a streak of 14 scoreless innings, took the mound at Yankee Stadium for the third time in his young career Tuesday night.
As with each of the first two outings, dating to the middle of last September, he left with the loss and a profound sense of disappointment. This time it was home runs by Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius that sent the Twins to an 8-3 loss, their fifth straight since leaving Puerto Rico.
Since the start of 2002, the Twins are 14-48 (.226) in the Bronx, including postseason series defeats in 2003-04 and 2009-10 and last year's wild-card loss in which Berrios worked three innings in relief.
Since homering three times in the series opener at Tampa Bay on April 20, the Twins have been outhomered 14-1 and outscored 40-11. Their only homer was Eduardo Escobar's solo shot in Sunday's second inning at Tropicana Field.
Berrios was coming off a seemingly pivotal career moment in his triumphant return to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he blanked the Cleveland Indians for seven innings in front of an adoring crowd on his native island. Tuesday's reception was far different as Berrios struggled to find the strike zone and slowly lost his grip on the game despite piling up five of his seven strikeouts in the first two innings.
Aaron Judge's fielding error on Escobar's two-out double into the right-field corner allowed Miguel Sano to lumber home in the first, but Sanchez lined an opposite-field homer in the second, wiping out the Twins' first lead at the end of a complete inning since Saturday's first at Tampa Bay.
Gregorius slapped a go-ahead single in the third after a one-out walk to Brett Gardner and a rocket double to left by Judge. Highly touted rookie Gleyber Torres made it 3-1 in the fourth with an RBI single after a two-strike wild pitch to Neil Walker and Mitch Garver's fielding error on Miguel Andujar's swinging bunt.
It took Berrios 87 pitches to get through four innings, three more than he needed to put up seven zeros back home at Hiram Bithorn Stadium against the Indians. He would throw just six more pitches before a Judge single and Gregorius' two-run homer (his eighth) ended his shortest start since lasting just 3 1/3 innings here last Sept. 19.
Berrios had walked just one batter (Chris Davis) in 104 plate appearances this season before a four-pitch walk to ex-Twin Aaron Hicks in the second. Berrios also walked Gardner on five pitches in the third and ran a total of seven three-ball counts on the night.
Berrios still has half the Twins' six quality starts this season, but since opening the year with 21 straight scoreless innings Twins starters besides Berrios have managed just one quality start in 15 tries (Jake Odorizzi on April 10 against Houston).
Veteran lefty CC Sabathia, meanwhile, mowed down the Twins in typical fashion. He gave up just that Sano walk and two hits—both to Escobar, who came in 2 for 12 against him—in six innings en route to his 20th career victory against the Twins.
Sabathia, a Twins' free-agent target this offseason before returning to the Yankees, lowered his career earned-run average against the Twins to 3.09 in 39 starts.