FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins' 4-2 victory over Atlanta on Monday answered any lingering questions the Twins may have had about Jose Berrios — the standing ovation he received from the Hammond Stadium crowd upon departing was a pretty good indicator, too — but it prompted a new question about Nelson Cruz: If he damages the scoreboard, does he have to pay for it?
Cruz's 426-foot third-inning cannon shot landed on the left-field plaza and ricocheted off the scoreboard, driving in two runs and helping the Twins earn their first victory over the Braves in six Grapefruit League meetings this spring. It was the 40-year-old slugger's second home run of the spring, and one of the longest this year.
Berrios, who surrendered eight hits and four runs in his previous start, this time was nearly spotless, dominating the Braves with a four-seam fastball that touched 95 mph. The right hander allowed two singles in 4⅔ innings, issued two walks and struck out six, prompting the crowd of 2,666 to give him an appreciative cheer when he was pulled in the fifth inning.
"I missed that. I missed that in 2020," he said of the noisy appreciation. "That's one of the things I have in my mind when people ask me, 'How's Minnesota?' I say, 'The people are great. They love baseball.' When we saw that and felt the crowd in the stadium, that gave us extra energy."
Hansel Robles, Alex Colome each pitched a shutout inning in relief, though Cody Stashak surrendered two runs on two hits in the ninth, but he struck out Atlanta outfielder Phillip Ervin to end the game.
The Twins staked Berrios to a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a Jorge Polanco double, two walks, an RBI groundout by Andelton Simmons and a two-out single by Ryan Jeffers.
May misses Minnesota
Former Twins pitcher Trevor May recently spoke on the Chris Rose Rotation podcast about his time with the Twins. May came to the team from Philadelphia in a 2012 trade and spent time in Triple-A and the majors until he left for the Mets in free agency this past December.
The 31-year-old righthanded reliever spent six seasons with the Twins, and in 215 games was 23-21 with a 4.44 ERA and 367 strikeouts in 316 innings. May reflected on how the fan base stayed supportive despite the literal ups and downs of his tenure, including having Tommy John surgery. He added he still stays in contact with people from the team and that leaving was bittersweet.
"I have nothing but good things to say about the Minnesota organization," May said on Monday's podcast. "They treated me as good as you could treat a guy. I've even had guys come up and be like, 'Yo, if you had an opportunity to go there, would you go there?' And I'm like, 'Absolutely, 100%.'
"And I'm going to be honest, that's not always the case. Everyone doesn't say that about everywhere they've been. But it's a top-notch organization. It does things the right way. A lot of great people there. I really do miss them a lot."