José Berríos scared us a little bit early in the game, but an Eddie Rosario-led offense scored in all of the first five innings to promote a powerful comeback and win the fourth in a row. The Twins hit three home runs on the night, becoming only the second team in MLB history to hit at least 100 home runs in the first 50 games of the season. They also maintain the MLB-best record, at 34-16.
Berríos: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 75.5% strikes (74 of 98 pitches)
Home Runs: Rosario (15), Sanó (5), Kepler (11)
Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (3-for-4, 2B, HR), Rosario (4-for-5, 2B, HR)
WPA of +0.1: Rosario .270, Kepler .210, Sanó .160, Buxton .100
WPA of -0.1: Berríos -.120
(chart via FanGraphs)
We don’t know when this Twins offense will slow down, but it’s safe to say that there are no indications that that’s going to happen anytime soon. They lead the league in runs scored, with 300 — a club record — to go with an endless list of offensive stats in which they are the best in baseball. It’s unbelievable.
Rosario had a four-hit night, including a home run and an RBI single. He leads Minnesota with 15 homers, becoming the sixth Twin in history to hit that many in the first 50 games of the season, the first since Justin Morneau in 2007. Miguel Sanó is sustaining his unexpected good return to the majors. He now has five home runs in seven games.
Berríos had yet another unusually shaky start. Although his final line showed only one earned run allowed and the defense out on the field made some serious mistakes, the Twins ace was not nearly as dominant as he had been earlier in the season. After posting a 2.53 ERA in the first seven starts, Berrios has pitched to a 5.29 ERA in the last three outings. The bullpen held the White Sox scoreless in 2 1/3 innings of work. Making his season debut after being promoted from Triple-A Rochester earlier on Friday, Zack Littell pitched two clean innings, striking out two.
Nearly 30,000 fans came to Target Field on Friday night, the first Joe Mauer bobblehead night of the year, to watch the Twins, who not only remain the best team in baseball, but also maintain an eight-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central. This was only the first of 19 games against the White Sox in the season.
Story of the game
After a quick, nine-pitch top of the first from Berríos, Kepler ledoff the bottom of the inning with a double to the corner of the right field, fair by a foot. He was later brought home by a two-out single from Rosario, making it 1-0 Twins.
But then, Berríos and Minnesota fielders got into trouble. Eloy Jimenez reached to lead off the second, taking advantage of a throwing error from Polanco to first. The ball went over Cron's head. Tim Anderson doubled after another fielding mistake, this time from Gonzalez, playing in the right field. He couldn't catch the line drive coming his way...it hit the tip of his glove and fell on the ground. Yonder Alonso then singled to left field to beat the Twins shift and score the two runners on.
With two outs, having trouble stopping the bleeding, Berríos hit Charlie Tilson for the second time in the game. Immediately afterward, Yoan Moncada and José Abreu hit back-to-back singles to score two more runs for Chicago, making it 4-1.
But Chicago’s lead didn’t last long. The Twins put two men on early in the bottom of the second, with Sanó being walked and Schoop being hit by a pitch. Then, Buxton hit his MLB-leading 19th double and plated Sanó. Kepler followed by hitting a sac fly to center field to score Schoop and move Buxton to third, cutting the visitor's lead to one.
Minnesota retook the lead in bottom of the third. Rosario and Sanó hit back-to-back solo home runs. Those two homers were the 99th and 100th from Minnesota this year, making them the second team in MLB history to reach the 100 homer mark in the first 50 games of the season, along with the 1999 Seattle Mariners (who hit 102).
After Berríos allowed two men on, but was then saved by a double play in the top of the fourth, Minnesota went on to score three more runs in the bottom of the inning. Kepler hit a blast to center field for his 11th homer of the year and Gonzalez doubled to score Polanco, who had been walked before him. After a pitching change from Chicago, Rosario got his third hit of the night, to bring in Gonzalez, making it 8-4 Minnesota. All of this after two outs.
The Twins never slowed down. After a uneventful top of the fifth for Berríos, Sanó (walk) and Schoop (double) got on, only to be brought home by Kepler’s third hit of the night, a two-out single to right that scored both runners, putting Minnesota in double digits. At this moment, Chicago was already using its second pitcher in relief of starter Reynaldo Lopez. Nothing seemed to work against this Twin lineup.
Berríos kept shaking off his bad second inning, pitching his first 1-2-3 inning of the game in the top of the sixth, totaling only 83 pitches. The offense kept pushing, with Rosario smashing a double off the right field wall and Cron reaching on a hit-by- pitch, but for the first time on the night, they had a scoreless inning.
Minnesota scored again in the bottom of the seventh. Jason Castro, who was having a quiet night, led off the inning with a double against Brazilian reliever Thyago Vieira. He was brought home when Kepler hit a line drive to right field, scoring the eleventh run of the game for Minnesota. Littell came in and pitched two scoreless innings, in the eighth and ninth, to secure the win. He didn’t give up any hits or walks, while punching out two batters.
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Sat vs. CHW, 1:10 pm CT (Gibson-Banuelos)