Jose Berrios doesn’t dwell on the bad starts. It’s a typical mind-set for a ballplayer. With the season so long, the occasional rough outing is bound to happen, only one start out of dozens.
But still, the All-Star righthander’s most recent outing vs. Atlanta was especially rocky — nine runs allowed over 5⅔ innings in a 12-7 loss Tuesday. The start was one of the worst outings of Berrios’ career.
That start — which began with a first-pitch home run by Ronald Acuna Jr. — also began a stretch of four consecutive losses going into Saturday night where the Twins starting pitcher struggled, a four-game losing streak that dropped the Twins into a first-place tie with Cleveland.
The Twins broke that tie with a 4-1 victory Saturday; a victory Sunday would restore the two-game lead they began the series with.
“Throw away, forget that bad outing or whatever,” Berrios said of his approach. “Keep moving forward and taking it day by day. The thing I’ve been doing so far is everything in the past. And now, tomorrow’s the next day.”
With Tuesday’s outing in mind, Sunday’s start against Cleveland is especially crucial, especially with the stakes ramping up, Berrios added.
“[Sunday] is another opportunity for me to go out there and do my job,” Berrios said. “I’m preparing myself from the last start to this one. We’re making the adjustments. Obviously, we’re playing against a great team within our division.”
As for specific adjustments from start to start, Berrios said he has focused mainly on the physical side, bringing “more energy to myself.” That includes resting and eating well, keeping his body sharp.
The mental aspect has to do more with flipping the page after a poor start. After all, Berrios said, he’s only human.
“Everybody makes mistakes or they miss sometimes,” said Berrios, who had a 2.31 ERA over his previous 12 starts, giving up 20 earned runs in 78 innings, before Tuesday’s meltdown. “The only thing is I know have another opportunity, I prepare myself to do great tomorrow.”
The recent stretch of rough starts has taxed the bullpen, leading to more promotions and demotions from Class AAA Rochester. It’s an area of the game starters are always conscious of — how they can help their relievers from being overworked.
With Berrios going to the mound Sunday, he will have the chance to help out his team trying to stay on top of the division.
“Every day we go out there and think to pitch well in the game, seven, eight, hopefully nine innings,” Berrios said. “But Cleveland’s a tough foe, so we have to take it pitch by pitch.”