Jose Berrios was wearing a “Super Rosario” parody T-shirt as he met with reporters after ending an eight-game winless streak Friday.
“Everybody needs a superhero,” Berrios joked about his teammate and fellow Puerto Rican, Eddie Rosario. But it was Berrios who looked like he had super powers vs. the White Sox.
Berrios struck out nine hitters over seven innings Friday, giving up only three singles and one run, and closed his All-Star season in dominating fashion as the Twins earned a 2-1 victory over the White Sox in the first game of a doubleheader. He also put himself in a class with some of the greatest strikeout artists in Twins history.
“He was efficient. The velocity was up,” manager Paul Molitor said of Berrios. “It was a nice way for him to be able to head home, knowing he finished the season strong.”
Mitch Garver is just happy to be finishing the season at all. Garver, concussed by a foul tip on Sept. 12, doubled twice, singled twice and drove in six runs in his return to the starting lineup, propelling the Twins to a 12-4 rout in the nightcap. The Twins swept a doubleheader for the first time since April 17, 2014, breaking a streak of 16 consecutive doubleheaders split or lost.
“Peace of mind for myself and for the people that care about me — my family, my wife,” Garver said of starting again, albeit at first base for the first time since last August, rather than catcher. “She was pretty concerned about the whole deal, so just to show here I’m healthy and feeling great, able to play again — the relief it gave her makes me smile.”
The Twins did plenty of smiling about Berrios’ first victory since Aug. 4, too, after he handcuffed Chicago in Game 1 with his bat-freezing curveball and 95-mile-per-hour fastball. And in the sixth inning, he looped a curveball over the outside corner against Daniel Palka for his 200th strikeout of the season. Berrios became the eighth Twins pitcher to reach that milestone, and the first righthander since Bert Blyleven in 1986. Only Francisco Liriano (2010) and Johan Santana (2004-06) had achieved the feat in the intervening years.
“That was one of my goals before the season started,” Berrios said of the 200-K mark. “That’s when I wrote it down. I accomplished it, and I’m thankful to God for that.”
Well, the White Sox had something to do with it, too. Chicago finished the doubleheader with 1,570 strikeouts on the season, one short of Milwaukee’s major league record of 1,571 — set last year. Berrios’ nine strikeouts gave him 67 whiffs against Chicago in his career, too, far more than any other opponent in his career.
Chicago managed only three hits against Berrios, all of them in the third inning. Leury Garcia’s two-out grounder to second base would have ended the inning, but Gregorio Petit’s throw to Tyler Austin was in the dirt, Austin couldn’t scoop it, and Tim Anderson scored the White Sox’s only run on the infield hit.
Taylor Rogers and Trevor May shut out Chicago over the final two innings to preserve Berrios’ 12th victory and first since Aug. 4. Berrios finishes 2018 with a 12-11 record, 202 strikeouts, a 3.84 ERA and a mid-July All-Star appearance. Not a bad season — but not close to what the 25-year-old Berrios intends to become.
“I want to be one of the best pitchers in the league,” he said. “I think I have the material to do that and to be the best pitcher on this team so that Minnesota can construct around me and build a winning team.”
The Twins didn’t generate much offense behind him, but they took advantage of Reynaldo Lopez’s wildness. Austin hit an RBI groundout in the first inning, and Willians Astudillo drove in the decisive run in the sixth with a sacrifice fly after Lopez walked the bases loaded.
Runs were much easier to come by in Game 2. The Twins scored three runs in the first inning, four in the second and three again in the third, taking a 10-1 lead and enabling Chase De Jong to cruise to his first career victory. The righthander gave up only a pair of solo home runs over six strong innings.