CLEVELAND – While the Twins praised the work of righthander Jose Berrios on Saturday, and Berrios spoke of how his 7 ⅔ shutout innings were confidence-building, some suspicion was raised on social media.
Local blogger Parker Hageman, whose video breakdowns of hitters’ swings have been a hit in recent years, took to Twitter late Saturday to point out a smudge on the bill of Berrios’ cap that the righthander touched frequently during his outing. Hageman also showed video of Berrios reaching for the area every time he received a new baseball.
“That spot seems to have something there,” Hageman tweeted while showing pictures of the smudge on the cap.
Intentional or not, Hageman’s tweets hinted that Berrios had a substance on his cap.
Berrios, sounding surprised, said he has always grabbed that part of his cap and thinks dirt ends up on that particular area.
“You always have dirty hands,” Berrios said. “Everybody knows we are out there and get dirty.”
Using a substance on a baseball is against MLB rules. Some believe there are pitchers who use substances to get a better grip on the baseball, and most people in the game look the other way as long as it is not obvious. The Yankees’ Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games in 2004 when a glob of pine tar was visible on his neck.
Hageman continued his examination Sunday, producing a video from last season showing Berrios reaching for the same area of his cap. Berrios said after Sunday’s game that he was going to review Hageman’s tweets to figure out what his point is.
“I’m going to read my Twitter,” Berrios said. “But I’m OK. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Buxton makes his mark
Byron Buxton wasn’t happy about not hauling in Carlos Santana’s drive to center field on Saturday. The ball popped out of his glove as he hit the wall, giving Santana a triple and leading to the Indians’ only run in a 4-1 Twins victory.
“I said I was going to make the next one,” Buxton said. “I told everyone it won’t happen again.”
It didn’t take long for him to back up that statement.
With two outs in the sixth inning Sunday, Santana sent another drive to the center field wall. Buxton raced back, took off and made a leaping catch while slamming into the wall and falling flat on his back.
“I just want to be aggressive,” said Buxton, who raised his glove to show that he made the catch.
Santana slammed his helmet to the ground in disbelief as he ran around second base, expecting an extra-base hit.
Cleveland spent the series raving about Buxton’s defense. “He’s awesome,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “He is as advertised.”
Indians manager Terry Francona said Buxton might have the most range in the league.
“We better not hit it to center,” Francona said. “That kid is impressive.”
Indians veteran radio announcer Tom Hamilton howled after Buxton’s catch on Sunday. “Oh, Byron Buxton!” he yelled into his microphone. “What a center fielder he is!”
Righthander Kyle Gibson was supposed to square off against David Price on Sunday when Class AAA Rochester played Pawtucket. But the game was rained out.
That’s eight rainouts this season for the Red Wings. The weather has wreaked havoc with the starting rotation, because pitchers have been unable to stick with a five-day routine.
Homer streak continues
Jorge Polanco’s home run in the seventh inning Sunday didn’t do much to save the Twins from an 8-3 loss, but it did mean that the Twins have hit at least one homer in 15 consecutive games.
That is the second-longest streak in club history. The 1979 Twins homered in 16 consecutive games, from April 28 to May 15. Roy Smalley led the Twins with 24 home runs that season.