Blue Jays 1 at Twins 3
Jose Berrios started strong and ended strong in his return to the Twin Cities, posting his sixth straight quality start. But a stumble in the middle was enough to spell defeat with the bats largely missing in action.
After the two two batters reached against him on a single and walk, Berrios buckles down to retire the next six in order, including four strikes. He looked very sharp both in terms of fastball command and snap on his slider, while mixing in a good looking change-up here and there.
The sharpness of the first couple innings was not evident coming out for the 3rd inning as Andrelton Simmons walked on five pitches leading off. Luis Arraez followed by smashing a bullet line drive low down the right field line for a triple to put the Twins up. The cery next pitch added two more, as Byron Buxton continued to be a one man Blue Jays wrecking crew by demolishing to dead centre for a 416 foot home run.
Berrios rebounded with a pair of strikeouts and a well struck 6-3 ground out to end the inning, but got right back into trouble in the 4th, as Nick Gordon and Brent Rooker had back-to-back singles on a sharp grounder and low line drive that was a particularly nice piece of hitting on a well-placed curve. This time he extricated himself from the situation without further damage by way of a strikeout, popup, and very high and major league flyout.
Berrios cruised through the rest of his outing, perfect in the 5th and 5th with another three strikeouts. In fact, the only batters to reach were leading those first four innings save the second. He was pulled at 90 pitches, which was a little surprising given how he was cruising and the upcoming off-day (perhaps an indication the spot will be skipped?). His final line with 3 runs on 5 hits over 6 innings, 2 walks against 10 strikeouts.
Trevor Richards and Nate Pearson each turned in scoreless innings to finish things out, though Pearson really had to work for it with deeper counts and a walk.
None of that really matters since the bats were stiffled the Twins and starter Bailey Ober. Marcus Semien hit a one out double to the gap in the 1st, stranded. Santiago Espinal lined the first he saw coming of the IL down the left field for a double leading off the third, stranded. The second time through was even less fruitful, with Corey Dickerson beating the shift on a ground ball the other way.
Going the third time through the order, Ober was clearly wanted nothing to do with Semien and pitched him very quickly. Getting ahead 0-2 with a change-up and curve, he went back to the change-up which was fouled off. He wasted a pair of breaking balls which failed to entice Semien to get himself out, then a pair of change-ups were fouled off. Having thrown the kitchen sink at him with seven offspeed pitches, Ober was still not inclined to challenge Semien with a fastball, going back to the curve but hung high in the zone. And Semien did not miss the cookie, with a bomb to left-centre:
Most homers in a season by a 2B:— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 25, 2021
1) Davey Johnson - 43 (1973)
T2) Brian Dozier - 42 (2016)
T2) Rogers Hornsby - 42 (1922)
T2) Marcus Semien - 42 (2021) pic.twitter.com/dnsTw5Q5V3
Statcast put the distance at 439 feet, but I’ll go with a still very impressive 415 feet (it was on par with Buxton’s had they been at the same spray angle). Unfortunately, that was the sum total of the offensive output. Four Twins relievers combined to retire the last 11 Jays batters in order.
Hard contact? There was some that found gloves:
- Alejandro Kirk smashed a “gliner” that Simmons snared at the infield cutout just off the ground in the 2nd, and Espinal hit a low liner in the 7th that suffered the same fate
- Following Semien’s home run, Vladimir Guerrero Jr greeted reliever Jorge Alcala with an absolute missile similar to the home run early this month (14 degree launch angle, 113 MPH exit velocity), but right to dead CF where it was pretty easily caught
- Tesocar Hernandez had a sharp fly out to the RCF wall in the 7th, and a sinking fliner to end the game
Jays of the Day: Semien (+0.064 WPA) had the highwater mark, and six total bases deserves one even if technically short of the line.
Suckage: The whole damn lineup, save Semien and maybe Dickerson (1/25, 9K, -0.566). Vlad (-0.119), McGuire (-0.114), and Springer (-0.111) all hit the official mark; Bichette added a golden sombrero.
It is only mildly hyperbolic to say that when the Jays send Robbie Ray to the mound tomorrow evening at 7:10 eastern for his penultimate regular season start, it will be to save their season. The Twins will counter with the notorious TBD, another loss would be a dagger even with a head-to-head series left with the Yankees.