The Minnesota Twins’ pitching staff has finally caught up in the strikeout era, with Jose Berrios leading the way.
Berrios became the first Minnesota pitcher in eight years to reach 200 strikeouts, throwing seven smooth innings for the Twins in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
“It means a lot, obviously. That was one of my goals before the season started,” Berrios said. “That’s when I wrote it down, and I accomplished it and I’m thankful to God for that.”
Berrios finished his All-Star season with a career-best 3.84 ERA and 202 strikeouts. The last time a Twins pitcher topped that milestone was Francisco Liriano (201) in 2010, with Johan Santana (235) in 2007 the most recent prior to that. The Twins are 16th in the major leagues in strikeouts, after finishing next-to-last in 2017. From 2011 through 2015, they were last.
Berrios (12-11) struck out nine batters, allowing just three hits and one run on Leury Garcia’s RBI single in the third. Berrios walked four, including Avisail Garcia to lead off the sixth, but he followed that by fanning Daniel Palka, Matt Davidson and Omar Narvarez in a 10-pitch span to finish the inning with his fastball buzzing.
“Pretty special kid,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Nice mix of pitches. Breaking ball was diving, sinking. He’s got a quick arm. Just kept us off balance.”
Though Berrios had a 4.15 ERA and just a 3-4 record in 12 starts after the All-Star break, the right-hander took another step toward being the ace at the top of the rotation the Twins have been lacking since Santana was traded 11 years ago.
“I want to be one of the best pitchers in the league,” Berrios said. “I think I have the material to do that and to be the best pitcher on this team, so that Minnesota can construct around me and build a winning team.”
Reynaldo Lopez (7-10) turned in another strong start for the White Sox, with the exception of matching his season high with five walks. The righty struck out five in six innings with four hits and two runs allowed. Tyler Austin’s RBI groundout in the first and Willians Astudillo’s sacrifice fly in the sixth were all the Twins needed.
After four outs by Taylor Rogers, Trevor May struck out the last to batters to notch his second save and end the game that was a makeup from the mid-April weekend when the White Sox and Twins had three straight games postponed by a snowstorm. Paid attendance was still announced at 20,245, with a first-pitch temperature of 51 degrees.
Joe Mauer, playing possibly the final games of his career with an expiring contract and a pending decision about whether or not to retire at age 35, had two singles and is hitting .352 (19 for 54) over his last 14 starts while reaching base at least once in each.
Astudillo has 16 RBIs in his last 15 games for the Twins, who improved to 46-32 at home. They’re 27-12 since June 24, the fifth-best record in MLB in that span.
The White Sox struck out 12 times, raising their season total to an MLB-most 1,563. That’s also only eight less than the all-time record of 1,571, set last year by the Milwaukee Brewers. Yoan Moncada has the team lead with 214, followed by Davidson with 161.
Lopez logged 40 innings over his last six starts, with a sparkling 1.13 ERA and 41 strikeouts. The 24-year-old finished with a 3.91 ERA in 188 2/3 innings.
“I’m leaving this season in a much better way than how I entered the season,” Lopez said through a team interpreter. “I learned a lot.”
The last time the White Sox played in Minnesota, on Aug. 20 , manager Rick Renteria experienced light-headedness in the afternoon and was hospitalized overnight as a precaution. He wound up missing four games. As a thank-you to the staff at Hennepin County Medical Center for his care, Renteria sent popcorn and donated 200 tickets to children being treated at the facility.
White Sox: RHP Lucas Giolito (10-12, 5.81 ERA) takes the mound in the nightcap.
Twins: RHP Chase DeJong (0-1, 3.86 ERA) starts the second game.
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