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: