The Runner Sports

José Berríos Impressive In Season Debut

After listening to my thinking, the Minnesota Twins called up José Berríos for Saturday’s game. In a welcomed change from his 2016 season, Berríos unveiled the best performance of his major league career.

Even though the Cleveland offense he faced has struggled lately, it is still a venerable lineup with the ability to pile on runs at any time. Struggling or not, Berríos dominated them. In seven and two-thirds innings he allowed only four base runners. He only struck out four batters, but he never faced any real danger.

The only slip up of Berríos’ game came in the bottom of the third inning. After he nearly gave up a home run to Carlos Santana–Byron Buxton turned it into a triple–he seemed a little flustered. He allowed Santana to score on a wild pitch in the middle of walking Francisco Lindor, the next batter. But he regained his composure and ended the inning with a three-pitch strikeout of Michael Brantley. Berríos showed signs of the flustered rookie he was last year, but turned things around before the damage got worse, which is a great step for him to take.

The best inning that Berríos threw was probably the sixth. Facing Santana, Lindor, and Brantley again, he managed to induce three infield popups. Shutting down the top of the Cleveland order is always an accomplishment, and doing so with weak pop flies is even better. It takes maturity for a young strikeout pitcher like Berríos to avoid the temptation to try and throw everything by the good hitters he faces. But getting past those three tough hitters was hardly the biggest obstacle of the inning.

In between the at-bats of Lindor and Brantley, a squirrel made its way onto the field.

It spent a couple of minutes running around the field, and it was not until Paul Molitor requested somebody try to remove it that any action was taken. Eventually, the Cleveland groundskeepers tried to walk it through the left field fence but it escaped up the third base stands. We are left now to guess where it may have gone. I assume it drove home, ate dinner, and then went out for some ice cream and a round of golf.

Regardless, the bizarre events did not phase Berríos, who took a few warmup pitches during the break and then continued on with his great performance to ensure that this was not a reincarnation of Rally Squirrel. It was yet another test of his ability to remain calm in a big league setting, and he succeeded.

On the whole, Berríos showed he can live up to the promise he has shown in the minors. One blip was quickly handled, and his overall performance was stellar. If he can continue with performances like this one, the Twins will have three great starters in their rotation and a solid fourth man in Phil Hughes, which will give them a good shot to win most every game.

After Berríos carried the Twins to victory on Saturday they have won four in a row and sit five games above .500 for the first time all season. They currently lead the American League Central by two games over Cleveland, and have the seventh best record in all of baseball. With solid starting pitching and the offense showing up more often than not, the division lead seems more and more sustainable.

Charlie Gillmer

Charlie Gillmer

Charlie Gillmer is a lifelong Twins fan who spends most nights dreaming of learning a knuckleball and pitching them to a World Series victory.
Charlie Gillmer