KANSAS CITY, MO. – Jose Berrios threw his first pitch of the eighth inning Saturday and knew something was wrong with his right hand. He looked down and noticed a blister.
“I saw it and took it out,” the Twins righthander said. “That was the bad thing I did, because after I did it started burning.”
He gave up a hit, threw a wild pitch then walked a batter before being removed. The uncharacteristic spurt was costly, as the normally steady Taylor Rogers replaced him but could stop the Royals from scoring three runs to send the game into extra innings.
Already playing shorthanded and with three more players on the injured list, the Twins figured out a way. Two players who were at Class AAA Rochester only days earlier stepped up in the 10th inning, as the Twins scored twice to win 5-3 in their latest improvisational feat.
The Twins blasted three homers and became the first team in the AL and second in the majors to win 50 games. Trevor May pitched a scoreless ninth inning to get the victory, and Blake Parker made his split-fingered fastball dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge bats in the 10th as he picked up his 10th save.
The Twins gone from underdog to one of baseball’s best teams not only by having a robust offense. They also have crafted victories without some key players. Marwin Gonzalez, Byron Buxton and Ehire Adrianza are on the injured list. Mitch Garver was in uniform, but the Twins didn’t want to use him Saturday as he battles a sore left heel.
And before the game, second baseman Jonathan Schoop was scratched because of a sore right foot, meaning rookie Luis Arraez, called up Tuesday, had to start against lefthander Danny Duffy. The Twins had one healthy position player on the bench: Jason Castro.
But the winning continued.
“Well I think our guys are definitely battling through a period of time where we’re not at full-strength health-wise,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We might not even be close to full strength, but our guys haven’t let it affect them in any way, and our guys haven’t made any excuses either.”
Arraez led off the 10th inning with a single to left and Jake Cave, also called up Tuesday, was hit by a pitch. After Jorge Polanco flied out, C.J. Cron hit a 1-2 pitch from Wily Peralta through the left side of the infield for a single, scoring Arraez. Nelson Cruz struck out, but Eddie Rosario made it a two-run inning with a double to right to score Cave.
The Twins did not win their 50th game last season until Aug. 3. This one could have come earlier, as they gave Berrios a 3-0 lead behind long balls. Miguel Sano hit a 454-foot homer to center in the second. That 1-0 lead remained until the eighth inning, when Cave hit a 437-foot shot to right center — his first home run of the season — and Cron added a 438-foot drive to left two batters later.
Before the blister, Berrios was a strike-throwing force, holding the Royals to four hits and three walks over the first seven innings with only three strikeouts. Cheslor Cuthbert’s two-out double in the seventh was the only ball hit off Berrios that went over 100 miles per hour.
“He did a fantastic job,” Baldelli said. “Even if you’re not going to miss the bats, that is exactly what you want it to look like.”
Berrios doesn’t expect to miss any time because of the blister. Schoop felt better Saturday after having treatment on his foot. Garver could be in position to help out Sunday if needed.
If not, the Twins will try to win with what they have, which has worked out so far.
“That just gives more opportunity to more people, and guys stepped up,” Cron said. “Even though they got those runs in the eighth, it’s nice to score two in the 10th and put the pressure right back on them. We did a good job sticking to the course.”