CLEVELAND – Jose Berrios has spotted a flaw. Now it's up to him to fix it.
While pitching only four innings Thursday, Berrios issued a career-high six walks. He previous high this season was four, so his command was off like it never has been before. He needed 97 pitches just to get through four innings and relinquished the ball with no resistance when manager Paul Molitor went to the bullpen in what ended up as a 5-4 loss to Cleveland.
"I was opening myself on my release, command of my pitches," Berrios said. "I didn't feel strong enough to pitch a good game."
The All-Star is not thinking of only mechanical adjustments. He might need alarm clock adjustments.
"Not quite sure what's going on with my outings when, instead of pitching at night, pitching in a day game," Berrios said. "It's just one of those weird things. Day games, it hasn't been good for me. But I'm still doing my routine normally like I do all the time."
Sure enough, Berrios is 8-2 with a 2.79 ERA during night games and 3-6 with a 4.77 ERA during day games.
He threw seven shutout innings against Texas on June 24, a day game. He has pitched in five day games since then, posting a 7.62 ERA.
It's not clear what Berrios wants to change — if anything — to solve the day puzzle. He is regimented almost to a fault, but it's how he has become one of the better young pitchers in the game.
"I do my routine normally for a night game but before my day game outings, all I can do is prepare my body and sleep eight hours the day of," he said. "I've been doing the same thing my entire year, so I'm not quite sure."
Righthander Aaron Slegers, on the disabled list since July 11 because of right shoulder inflammation, has suffered a setback and is no longer on his rehabilitation program.
Slegers started July 10 but was knocked out in the second inning, then informed of club of discomfort in his shoulder after he left the game.
"He had a side [session] the other day we had to cancel because of irritation in the shoulder," Molitor said. "Sent him back for an MRI. There's no labrum or structural damage, but obviously it's inflamed. We're going back to Square 1 with him."
The Twins needed to win Thursday to earn a split of the four-game series. Two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber was on the mound.
And Joe Mauer is a career .296 hitter against Kluber with two home runs. But Molitor wanted to give Mauer a day off and stuck to his plan.
"It's always tough to take Joe out, especially when you are trying to win a game and salvage a series," Molitor said. "But you are still going to try and do right by Joe."
If there was more on the line, perhaps Mauer plays. But Miguel Sano started at first Thursday. Logan Morrison, whose batting average is down to .188, also didn't play.