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Twins Insider

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

Postgame: Berrios passes first difficult test

    BALTIMORE — Three more extras from the Twins’ sweep-clinching victory at Camden Yards:

    Unlike his first two dominating starts, Jose Berrios got into some trouble against the Orioles on Wednesday. That’s not a bad thing, either, because the Twins want to see how he responds.

    So far, so good. Berrios gave up a one-out single to Manny Machado in the fourth inning, then walked Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini (with a Chris Davis popup in between) to load the bases. Pitching coach Neil Allen walked to the mound to confer with the 22-year-old starter.

    “You can tell he gets a little bit sped up and tries to throw a little bit harder. Maybe gets too fine,” Molitor said of the pep talk. “You try to get him just to go back and be free and easy and just make pitches.”

    “Neil said to trust myself, trust my stuff. And throw the ball inside,” Berrios said. “That’s what I did.”

    Berrios put the advice into action against Jonathan Schoop. He got ahead 1-2, then threw a curveball in the dirt that caused Schoop to flinch, and he was called out on the check swing. “He had a good matchup there,  a good long at-bat and got him to chase,” Molitor said of Berrios, whose ERA rose all the way to 1.66. “That was a big inning.”

    And a good test.

   One inning earlier, Berrios unleashed this nastiness

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    With his 12th save on Wednesday, in 13 opportunities, Brandon Kintzler moved within one save of AL leader Cody Allen of Cleveland. It wasn’t a clean inning, but it was close.

    Mancini led off the ninth with a single to right field, putting the tying run on base. But just as the Camden Yards crowd of 32,267 came alive, Kintzler snuffed the threat. He got Schoop to hit a grounder up the middle, and though there was momentary confusion, it worked out for Minnesota.

    “Kintzler put his glove up to get it, and then he moved it all of a sudden,” said Brian Dozier. “It caught me a little off guard.”

    That’s because Dozier recovered, snagged the ball one step from second base, kicked the bag and calmly tossed to first base. 

    “It’s a sweet double play,” Dozier said.

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    When Taylor Rogers fell behind 3-0 to Chris Davis in the eighth inning, having thrown nothing but curveballs out of the strike zone, he knew how to fix the problem: Just throw fastballs.

    Not because he wanted to try something else, but because he believed they would get his curve back on track.

    “I was lucky to get back in the count with two heaters. And [catcher Chris Gimenez] and I were on the same page the whole way — 3-2 curveball,” Rogers explained. “It’s kind of like when you’re in the bullpen and you can’t quite find the breaking ball, so you throw a fastball to try to find the release point again. I think it helped that I threw those two fastballs, got back on my release point, and was able to get [the 3-2 curve] in there.”

    Count Molitor as impressed.

    “He had been trying to ambush the whole series,” Molitor said of the Orioles’ slugger, who swung at Berrios’ first pitch in the fourth inning with two runners on, and lofted a popup to third.  Then he swung at the first pitch again in the seventh and rocketed it onto the plaza in right field. Good timing for the Twins, of course, and it all set up Rogers’ big moment in the eighth.

    No wonder, Molitor said, that Rogers pumped his fist in exuberance as umpire Lance Barrett signaled strike three.

    “That’s as dangerous as it gets,” Molitor said.

Berrios starting today; Molitor hopes to keep success in perspective

    BALTIMORE — Paul Molitor isn’t trying to be a buzzkill. He just doesn’t want anyone to heap Ervin Santana-sized expectations on Jose Berrios.

    “He’s going to be 23 [on Saturday], so you have to keep it in perspective,” the Twins manager said before today’s getaway afternoon game, in which Minnesota will attempt to complete a sweep of what was, until this week, the majors’ best home team. “We’re not expecting a two-hit shutout. But if he can minimize the damage when things get a little out of control, he’s going to be a big plus for us.”

    Two-hit shutout is what Santana did to the Orioles on Tuesday. And come to think of it, Molitor said, “Ervin and Jose have similar repertoires. They can elevate a little bit with extra velocity,” and they both have a put-away breaking pitch, Santana a slider and Berrios a curve, Molitor said. And the young Puerto Rican has allowed only one run in his first two starts for the Twins this season. Still, the manager cautioned, “It’s one thing to watch Ervin pitch against this team and try to mimic some of those things, but you’ve still got to go out and execute.”

    A victory would give the Twins their second sweep of a three-game series this season, and their sixth win in seven games. Molitor has given Joe Mauer and Jason Castro the afternoon off, and Miguel Sano will serve as the designated hitter. Kennys Vargas, coming off two doubles last night, will play first base, and Chris Gimenez, who was planted in front of a computer screen for about 45 minutes this morning, watching each Orioles hitter swing at Santana’s pitches, will catch the youngster.

    Here are the lineups for today’s series finale:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Polanco SS

Sano DH

Kepler RF

Vargas 1B

Escobar 3B

Rosario LF

Gimenez C

Buxton CF

 

Berrios RHP

 

ORIOLES

 

Smith RF

Jones CF

Machado 3B

Trumbo DH

Davis 1B

Mancini LF

Schoop 2B

Hardy SS

Joseph C

 

Tillman RHP

Final, 5/24 R H E
Minnesota 25-18 4 10 1
Baltimore 25-20 3 6 1