Minnesota Twins: Berrios, bats lift off in Houston

Apr 27, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios (17) looks down after giving up a RBI double in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jose Berrios (17) looks down after giving up a RBI double in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Berrios earns first career win as Minnesota Twins top Astros

In just his second major league start, Jose Berrios (1-1, 6.75) came out needing to give the Minnesota Twins (8-18) an effective start after a rough stretch of home games that saw them go 2-4.

It’s only fitting, really, that this game would be in Houston as the last time a rookie pitcher for the Twins took on a former Cy Young winner, it went pretty well for Minnesota.

It went pretty well this time also as the Twins put together perhaps one of their finest efforts in a 6-2 win over the Houston Astros (8-18) that also marked Berrios’ first career victory.

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The Astros took the lead early with a solo blast by Preston Tucker in the second but Berrios would soon settle down.

And with the reigning Cy Young winner Dallas Kuechel (2-4, 5.11) on the mound, that should have been enough, right?

Well, unfortunately for the Astros, Kuechel looked like anything but the best pitcher in the American League as he struggled with his command all night long.

Dozier reached on a reviewed play that was reversed and deemed a hit, and Kuechel walked four in the fourth, including a bases loaded pass to Eduardo Nunez that gave the Twins a 3-1 lead.

The Twins would leave the bases loaded but would bounce right back in the fifth following a 10-pitch bottom of the fourth by Berrios.

Kuechel walked Brian Dozier to lead off the inning and allowed a single to right field by Miguel Sano before Byung Ho Park smacked a triple to center field on a ball that may have been gone in any other ball park.

Park’s first major league triple drove in two and extended the lead to 5-1.

For the Twins John Ryan Murphy contributed perhaps his most important moment of this season as he got tossed in the fifth after arguing a clear strike with home plate umpire Jerry Layne.

After a long delay, Berrios came right back to drop the hammer and deliver essentially the same pitch to strike out Jose Altuve looking.

The two teams exchanged homers in the bottom of the fifth with a solo shot by George Springer and then a home run by Nunez in the top of the sixth to make it 6-2.

Berrios exited the game after walking his fifth batter in the sixth inning but it was a still a very strong outing as there were some very close pitches that could have – or should have – been called strikes.

The bullpen took it over from there and performed well, shutting down the Astros for the final 3 2/3 innings of work.

2. Final. 2. 135. 6

Team Totals: 8 hits, 6 runs, 5 walks, 6 RBI, 1 HR. The first major league triple by Park, a solo shot by Nunez and a whole bunch of walks, but the offensive player of the game is a no doubter in Dozier. <a href=. . Brian Dozier. OFFENSE . A

STARTERS . B+. Team totals: 5 1/3 innings, 3 hits, 8 strikeouts, 5 walks, 2 earned runs. Despite the walks, Berrios looked fantastic out there as his velocity was up – hitting 93-95 on a consistent even at 80+ pitches – his fastball showed some serious movement and his breaking pitch showed some serious signs of life as he used it often as his strike out pitch. Needless to say, this is the Jose Berrios we all thought we were getting and just goes to show last week’s start may have been due to the poor conditions and first game jitters. The walks and lack of a quality start are what drops the score but if his improvement continues, expect higher grades in the future.. . Jose Berrios

Fernando Abad. RELIEVERS . A. Team totals: 3 2/3 innings, 2 hits, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 runs. Once again, Abad shows why he is arguably the best reliever on the team. Sure, he got into a couple of three-ball counts but he fought back to get some outs. It was especially nice to see Molitor let him go for more than just one or two batters as that is pretty much how Abad has been exclusively used. Abad went 1 1/3 innings allowing no hits, walking none and striking out one. <a href=.

A. In the fourth inning, <a href=. . Danny Santana. DEFENSE

Next: Mauer named POTW

MVT(S): Brian Dozier, Jose Berrios

The Twins will faceoff with the Astros in Game Two of the series Tuesday night at 7:10 PM CST at Minute Maid Park. The big story for the Twins will be the first big league start for Alex Meyer (0-0, 18.00) as he goes against Collin McHugh (2-3, 6.65). Meyer spent most of last season as a reliever in Triple-A after being converted from a starter. Now will be his opportunity to show what he’s got as many analysts have said this may be a make or break year for the rookie.