MILWAUKEE – The crazy thing about pitching six, but only six, innings without giving up a hit is, the focus often becomes more about what you didn't accomplish than what you did.
But not for Jose Berrios, who didn't argue when he was pulled from the best start of his All-Star career, who didn't campaign to complete his first no-hitter since high school — because he didn't know he hadn't given up a hit.
"When Rocco [Baldelli] came to me and took me out of the ballgame, he just gave me a hug. He didn't say anything and didn't let me say anything," Berrios said after the bullpen finished off the 18th one-hitter in Twins history, a 2-0 victory over the Brewers. "I was taking with Elvis [Martinez, the Twins' interpreter] and Michael [Pineda] and I said, 'Wait, I didn't know I had a no-hitter.' If I had, maybe I could have talked to Rocco first."
But it wouldn't have mattered, the manager said.
Berrios threw 84 pitches through six innings, and "the odds of getting through nine innings probably put his pitch count somewhere well above where we were comfortable," Baldelli said. "So instead of letting that dictate what we were going to do, and with all the lefties coming up in their lineup, I was pretty comfortable at that time taking him out."
So Berrios settled for six innings of brilliance, tying his career high of 12 strikeouts. "He pitched so, so well," Baldelli said. "One of the best outings I've seen from him in three years. Dominant."
And here's the bizarre part: Berrios' no-hit outing was only the second longest of the game. Brewers righthander Corbin Burnes was as dominating as Berrios, at one point striking out six consecutive Twins, and he held the Twins hitless for 6⅓ innings, one out longer than his Twins counterpart. Both starters hit a batter in the fifth inning.
But after matching no-hit inning with no-hit inning, Burnes' fate was crueler than simply being lifted. Byron Buxton took care of that.
With his 87th and final pitch of the night, Burnes tried to sneak a 96-mile-per-hour fastball past Buxton. It was lower and more delicious than he intended, and Buxton ended the no-hit threat by drilling it onto an overhang in center field. In doing so, Buxton became the first Twins player since Shannon Stewart in 2006 to homer in both of the season's first two games.
"He's an explosive guy with the bat in his hands," Baldelli said.
Taylor Rogers replaced Berrios for the seventh, and struck out all three hitters he faced. Tyler Duffey had the eighth, and walked Lorenzo Cain with one out, then gave up a Milwaukee's first and only hit, a drive by Omar Narvaez into the right-field corner that Max Kepler quickly recovered, holding Cain at third and Narvaez to a single. But Duffey recovered to strike out pinch hitter Daniel Vogelbach looking, and force another pinch hitter, Billy McKinney, to line out to Kepler.
Does that no-hit spoiler, Narvaez, sound familiar? The last time the Twins one-hit a team, an Ervin Santana masterpiece at Target Field against the White Sox on April 15, 2017, the lone hit was a single to right field by … yep, Narvaez.
Alex Colome, who blew a three-run ninth-inning lead in Thursday's 6-5 loss in 10 innings, quickly dispatched the Brewers in the ninth, though the game was delayed for five minutes when home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor was hit in the throat by a foul ball and Brewers trainer Dave Yeager nearly fainted. Once the game resumed, Colome induced a popup from Christian Yelich to end the game.
Berrios' near-perfection continued his success against National League teams. In fact, NL hitters are batting .188 against the righthander over his career. Among pitchers who have faced at least 400 batters in interleague play (which began in 1997), only Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera has been stingier, allowing a .173 average.
Berrios is the third Twins pitcher pulled after at least six no-hit innings, joining Kyle Gibson, who departed after six no-hit innings in Baltimore on March 31, 2018, and Kevin Slowey, who lasted seven no-hit innings against Oakland at Target Field on Aug. 15, 2010.
There's no way of knowing if he could have completed the no-hitter. Well, unless we ask him.
"Yes," Berrios said with a smile of the what-if. "I can say now: Yes."