Jose Berrios has dominated when all his pitches have worked. He has won when he has backed off his curveball and used his changeup more. He even beat the Astros on May 2 when he didn’t like his curve or change and simply dotted his fastball.
He has won in various ways, the mark of a good pitcher. But, on Monday, he searched for ways to tame the Angels and came up empty.
“He didn’t have one thing to rely on where he could go back to it tonight,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
A struggling Berrios, coupled with a sputtering offense in the late innings, led to a 5-4 loss to the Angels at Target Field. Tommy La Stella’s sixth-inning home run broke a 4-4 tie and sealed the Twins’ second loss in as many games. They have lost back-to-back games three times so far this season but have yet to lose three in a row.
The Twins got home runs by Jorge Polanco and Marwin Gonzalez but went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position while stranding eight on base.
Berrios (6-2) already is moving on to his next start after lasting a season low 5⅔ innings Monday. But he will look at replays from his outing to see what he could have done differently.
“I just think they had a good plan,” he said, “and executed it against me today.”
The 12 hits against him were a season high, well past his previous high of nine and well above his season average of 6.9 hits per nine innings. Some were seeing-eye hits that foiled the Twins shifts.
Berrios had walked eight batters all season entering Monday, but walked three Angels.
He had given up one home run over his three previous starts but gave up two Monday, including a 429-foot shot to Shohei Ohtani.
“Even though he might not have had his best stuff or command tonight, he’s never going to quit,” Baldelli said. “He’s going to keep going out there and keep trying to find it. And he got us into the middle of the game.”
Polanco hit a two-run homer in the first inning before the Angels scored three in the third. La Stella led off the inning with a single, then scored when Gonzalez, making his first career start and fifth appearance in right field, misplayed Mike Trout’s single to right into a two-base error. The ball took a bad hop as Gonzalez overran it, then it rolled toward the wall.
With Trout on third, Berrios threw a center-cut fastball to Ohtani, who rocketed it into the bullpens for a two-run homer.
Albert Pujols singled away from the shift to drive in Andrelton Simmons in the fifth, but Gonzalez hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to tie it at 4-4.
Berrios went out for the sixth, but hung a curveball to La Stella, whose 20th career home run was his first one to the opposite field in 432 career games.
The Twins then stranded two in the seventh and wasted a leadoff double by Willians Astudillo in the eighth.
“You will probably end up losing games when you go 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, but it is what it is,” Baldelli said. “It’s going to happen. I wouldn’t be surprised if our guys bounce back well and have the same good at-bats they have been having all year tomorrow and forward.”