NEW YORK — About the time Jose Berrios was walking off the mound Tuesday, his night cut short by the Yankees’ excruciatingly patient approach at the plate, Hurricane Maria came ashore in his homeland of Puerto Rico.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about those things,” Berrios said after his 90-pitch, 10-out loss in his first visit to Yankee Stadium.
Nearly all of Berrios’ family, he said, is in Minnesota to celebrate the birth last week of his third child, Diego. “But you can’t be selfish. There are a lot of other citizens on the island that are going through it,” Berrios said. “And my heart goes out to them.”
Berrios walked four batters and went deep into counts with practically everybody, despite having an notably electric fastball, manager Paul Molitor pointed out. In fact, his fastball sometimes hitting 97 mph may have been part of the problem, Molitor surmised.
“His fastball was really jumping, but it looked like he was maybe trying a little bit too hard at times to get a little extra,” Molitor said. “His command hurt him a little bit.”
But Berrios said the numbers were misleading. He didn’t have a good night, he said, but it wasn’t because of overextending himself. It was because the Yankees are an exceptionally patient team, and umpire Game Morales’ strike zone wasn’t a generous one.
“I gave up what, four bases on balls? Three of them were on balls that were close to strikes,” Berrios said. The strike zone “was a little bit tight, and they took advantage.”
The righthander also didn’t buy the notion that he’s not the same pitcher on the road this season as he is at Target Field. Berrios is 8-1 with a 2.45 ERA at home this season, but dropped to 4-7 with a 5.28 ERA on the road; he hasn’t posted a victory away from Target Field since June 10 in San Francisco.
That’s not a trend, Berrios protested, but a random occurrence.
“It happens. You look at last year — all three of my victories were on the road,” Berrios said. “It’s just baseball. I wish I had thrown the same way I did in Target Field (he beat the Yankees there on July 19), but that’s just the way it goes.”
CC Sabathia caught Robbie Grossman looking in the second inning, then whiffed Chris Gimenez with a fastball. The combination moved the veteran lefthander up in the ranks of baseball history: With 2,833 strikeouts (he ended the night with 3,836), Sabathia passed Mickey Lolich for the third-most strikeouts ever by a lefty.
The 37-year-old is not likely to move up any higher, though: He trails Randy Johnson (4,875) and Steve Carlton (4,136). Sabathis is 18th place among all pitchers, and with a couple of good starts, could catch 17th-place Jim Running (2,855) before the season ends.
Sabathia also took over the lead among active pitchers for career innings pitched, with 3,305.1, but he figures to hold that distinction for only about 15 hours. Bartolo Colon, who starts for the Twins on Wednesday afternoon, needs only two outs to catch him.