That was a fun one. Berrios was absolutely dominant, recording strikeouts with all four of his pitches. After the offence hit a speed bump last night, they picked off right where they were on the winning streak, beating up on every pitcher the Twins sent to the mound.
José Berríos’ quest to bounce back form a bad performance last time out got off to an uneven start in the first. Luis Arraez hit his first pitch on the ground up the middle for a single. Berríos was able to get Byron Buxton swinging, but gave up a long home run to dead centre to Jorge Polanco, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. It wasn’t a terrible pitch, 95 on the outside black, but it wasn’t high enough and Polanco barrelled it. Jose bounced back, K’ing Trevor Larnach and Jose Miranda.
The Jays were able to make a partial answer in the bottom of the first. After Dylan Bundy struck out George Springer and got up 0-2 on Bo Bichette with a couple of good fastballs, he hung a curve that Bo took deep into the second deck to left. Vladimir Guerrero jr. popped out and Teoscar Hernandez flied out to the track in left to end the inning.
Nick Gordon led off the second by lining a low fastball off the right field wall for a double. Berríos got Mark Contreras swinging on a steady diet of back foot curveballs, then beat Ryan Jeffers with a two seamer running hard in on his knees for his fifth K in the first turn through the order. Jermaine Palacios flied out to left to strand Gordon at second.
The Jays kept fighting in the bottom of the second. Alejandro Kirk lined a single to left and, after Santiago Espinal flew out and Matt Chapman struck out looking, advanced to second when Lourdes Gurriel jr. walked. (As an aside, when did Lourdes learn the zone? He’s chasing 26.5% of pitches outside the zone this year, per Baseball Savant, down an amazing 7.3 percentage points from his career average and actually a little better than league average. It’s a great sign for a player who’s struggled in the past with consistency because of his bad approach. The team should make Bichette hang out with him.) Cavan Biggio, hitting ninth, lined a double down the right field line to plate Kirk and tie it up, moving Gurriel to third. It was at this point that things which would have made me really mad if I were a Twins fan started happening. First, George Springer hit a swinging bunt right down the margin of the grass on the third base line that Bundy picked up in fair territory, allowing Springer to reach and Gurriel to score. Then Polanco booted an extremely easy chopper by Bichette, sending Biggo across to give Toronto a 4-2 lead. Guerrero grounded out to end the inning.
The Twins got a man on in the bottom of the third, as Berríos hit Arraez with a slightly too literal back foot curveball. He bounced back, striking out Buxton looking, and getting a near double play on a grounder back to the mound by Polanco. To close out the inning he absolutely overpowered Larnach, setting him up with 96 on the corner and finishing him off with two diving change ups that he couldn’t get within a foot of.
The Jays lineup really started to tee off in the bottom of the inning. First Hernandez triples on a fly to the right field power alley, then Kirk hit a 110mph laser beam into the left field seats, giving the Jays a 6-2 lead. Espinal and Gurriel lined singles, sandwiched around a Chapman pop up, to knock Bundy out of the game. Righty Ian Hamilton came in in relief and struggled to find the plate, walking Cavan Biggio to load the bases, but got a hard ground ball from Springer that the Twins were able to turn for a double play to end the inning.
Miranda worked a walk to open the fourth, but Espinal and Chapman (playing short in a shift) turned a smooth double play on the speedy Gordon to erase the runner and Berríos struck out Contreras to end the inning.
The pile-on continued in the home half of the inning. Bichette lined a single, and then Vlad did Vlad things, turning on 94 6 inches inside the top corner and somehow muscling it over the left field fence. He hasn’t quite lived up to the standard he set last year so far in 2022, but he’ll still do something every couple weeks that maybe a half dozen other living people can do. Hamilton was able to stop the bleeding there, allowing a double to Espinal but getting a line out, fly out, and ground out from Hernandez, Kirk, and Chapman, respectively.
Jeffers reinforced how impressive Vlad’s swing was when he came up to start the fifth, swinging at almost exactly the same pitch and barely slapping a soft liner out to short for the first out. Berríos fanned Palacios and got a routine ground out off Arraez to complete an easy inning. The bottom of the inning was similarly quiet, as Hamilton retired Gurriel, Biggio, and Springer in order.
Berríos issued his second walk of the afternoon to put Buxton on leading off the sixth, but it wasn’t a problem. Polanco popped out in foul territory behind the third base bag, Larnach was victimized for the third time for Jose’s 10th strikeout of the game, and Miranda took his second to make the total 11.
Yennier Cano took over for Minnesota in the bottom of the sixth. The Jays threatened to add onto their lead, with Teoscar Hernandez reaching on a ground ball single, stealing second, and moving to third on a wild pitch that was ball four to Kirk (who’d move to second on another wild pitch). Contreras made a very good sliding catch on an Espinal fly ball lofted into the right field gap to prevent end the inning before the Jays could capitalize, though.
In the seventh, Berríos finished off a dominant outing, getting a fly out from Larnach (who was probably just happy to avoid the sombrero of shame), striking out Contreras to tie his career high at 12 then beating Jeffers to set his personal best at 13.
In the bottom half, Chapman worked a leadoff walk to complete the set of all Jays hitters reaching base on the day. Gurriel added an infield single and Biggio also picked up a walk to load the bases for Springer for the second time today. He did a bit better this time, scoring Chapman on a sac fly to left, but also fouled a ball off his foot. Cano struck out Bichette and Guerrero to stop it there, but the Jays were able to reach 9 runs for just the third time this season.
Julian Merryweather came in to handle the eighth, working his second game in a row, and Zimmer took over in centre for Springer. Merryweather looked good. He conceded a ground ball single to Palacios and another infield single to Gilberto Celestino (pinch hitting for Polanco) on a high, slow chopper over the mound, but struck out Arraez, got a pop out from Buxton and a ground out from Gary Sánchez (pinch hitting for Larnach) to avoid giving up any runs.
The Twins turned to Juan Minaya to work the bottom half of the eighth. Hernandez picked up his third hit of the afternoon on a single to left, and after a Kirk fly out Espinal worked a walk and Chapman took his second pitch off the shoulder of the week to load the bases. Gurriel then lined a single to left to cash in the first two, and Biggio flipped one softly against the shift to bring Chapman in and set a new season high for the Jays offense at 12 runs. Zimmer was called out on a ball six inches below the zone (I guess Angel Hernandez had dinner reservations) and Raimel Tapia, hitting for Bichette, grounded out.
Trent Thornton came in to close it out. He have up a leadoff double to Miranda but got a one hopper to Espinal (playing short due to some offensive shufling), a grounder to Biggio (playing second), and struck out Jeffers to end the game.
Jays of the Day: Berríos (0.018) somehow didn’t have the number, but he was the star of the show today. Bichette (0.190), Biggo (0.147), and Kirk (0.102) all did hit the number
Suckage: Nobody. Every pitcher did their job, every hitter got on base at least once.
The Jays close out the series tomorrow at 1:37 Eastern. Kevin Gausman will square off against Devin Smeltzer for the series win.