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The Twins Beat

La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Postgame: Berrios says hurricane, road venue wasn't the problem

    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.”

XXX

    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.

Twins hope nerves are gone; Yankees pitch their ace Wednesday

    NEW YORK — The Twins didn’t win last night, but they could have. Paul Molitor hopes that realization helps his team relax and hit a little bit better tonight against CC Sabathia than they did against Jaime Garcia.

    “Let’s hope so. [It’s] another challenge to go out there tonight and try to find a way to score some runs off an established, veteran pitcher who’s had a good year,” Molitor said. “Collectively, you hope that second night in here, maybe there’s a little bit more relaxed approached to the game. They now kind of get what it’s like to play here in September. We’ve just got to try to give our pitcher a little bit more support.”

    That pitcher is Jose Berrios, who has never pitched in New York before. He’s 1-0 against the Yankees, though, having limited them to one run over 6 1/3 innings at Target Field in July. The Twins have a lot of confidence in the 23-year-old righthander, but they know he’s got a lot on his mind these days, too. In addition to pitching in the middle of a postseason race, Berrios became a father for the third time last week, and now Hurricane Maria, another category 5 storm, is about to slam his Puerto Rican homeland.

    “He and Kennys [Vargas] and Rosie [Eddie Rosario] are all dealing with another bout of anxiety related to their homeland,” Molitor said. “I haven’t checked with them on it specifically today, [but it’s] hard to imagine it’s not at least a little bit on their minds.”

    Meanwhile, the Twins learned that Wednesday’s challenge has grown a little bigger. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had planned to give his ace, righthander Luis Severino, an extra day off and start Masahiro Tanaka in the series finale instead. But Girardi announced Tuesday that he’s changed his mind — in order to have the flexibility to start Severino three times in the season’s final two weeks, just in case there’s a chance of catching Boston for the AL East title, he’s going to keep Severino on his regular rest, which means starting him Wednesday.

    Severino is 13-6 with a 2.93 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 184 innings this season, and if the Yankees don’t catch the Red Sox, he’s the likely starter in a wild-card game. So getting an early look at him might help the Twins in a couple of weeks, but it makes their task more difficult this week.

    Tonight, the Twins face lefty Sabathia, who has a career 18-9 record against the Twins and a 3.16 ERA. Max Kepler gets a start in right field, even though his contributions against left-handers have been so scarce this season. Kepler has one extra-base hit against left-handed pitching since April 15.

    Here are the lineups for the second of three games in Yankee Stadium:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Polanco SS

Escobar 3B

Buxton CF

Rosario LF

Grossman DH

Gimenez C

Kepler RF

 

Berrios RHP

 

YANKEES

 

Gardner LF

Judge RF

Sanchez C

Gregorius SS

Headley DH

Castro 2B

Ellsbury CF

Frazier 3B

Bird 1B

 

Sabathia LHP

Final, 9/19 R H E
Minnesota 78-73 2 8 1
NY Yankees 84-67 5 11 0

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