MILWAUKEE — Jose Berrios will never know if he could have etched his name into the history books on an early April night in Milwaukee. He didn’t get the chance to find out.
Maybe he would have been more distraught about not getting that chance if he had known he had the no-hit bid going in the first place.
“When (manager) Rocco (Baldelli) came to me and took me out of the ballgame, he just gave me a hug,” Berrios said. “He didn’t say anything and didn’t let me say anything back to him. When I came off the field, I saw that we had a no-hitter going.”
If it hadn’t been so early in the season, maybe he would have had a chance to throw a little longer. But instead, after a brilliant performance on Saturday night in the Twins’ 2-0 win over the Brewers at American Family Field, Baldelli pulled the 26-year-old after just 84 pitches and six no-hit innings and handed the ball to the bullpen.
The Twins’ bid for a combined no-hitter was broken up with one out in the eighth inning when Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez singled to right off Twins reliever Tyler Duffey. It would have been the Twins’ first combined no-hitter and the sixth no-hitter in club history.
Baldelli had no second thoughts about the decision to turn to Taylor Rogers, who struck out the side, in the seventh. It came immediately after the Twins had taken a one-run lead and with two lefties, including Christian Yelich, due up.
“Being early on in the season, being at a point where Jose was really efficient but the odds of getting through nine innings probably put his pitch count somewhere well above where we were comfortable … instead of letting that dictate what we were going to do, and with all the lefties coming up in their lineup, I was pretty comfortable at that time taking him out,” Baldelli said.
Berrios struck out 12 in his start, matching a career high. His four-seamer averaged 95.3 miles per hour, and he racked up 18 whiffs in his six innings while flummoxing the Brewers. Though it was just his first start of the season, Berrios said he felt like he was in midseason form on Saturday.
“I had great control with my pitches. Good grip on (the curveball),” Berrios said. “We had good weather out there. It’s not too cold, so I could handle that.”
Both Berrios and Brewers starter Corbin Burnes twirled six no-hit innings. Burnes’ no-hit bid was broken up when Byron Buxton took a pitch out to center field for his second home run of the season. That home run ended the night for Burnes, who walked off to a standing ovation from the Milwaukee crowd after striking out 11 hitters in his 6 1/3 innings.
Both had perfect games heading into the fifth inning, though those were broken up when each hit a batter. It was the first game with dueling no-hitters through six innings since Jake Peavy and Jacob deGrom did that in 2014.
“It’s a fantastic baseball game for anyone who loves the game, for anyone that doesn’t mind showing up and watching two elite starters go at it at the top of their games,” Baldelli said. “ … I haven’t seen too many games pitched like that through six innings. That was really fun to watch, and I’m just glad we were able to come through with a couple of runs and get the job done. That’s an old-time pitcher’s duel right there.”
It was the Twins’ (1-1) second no-hit bid carried into late innings against the Brewers (1-1) in as many years. Kenta Maeda nearly no-hit the Brewers last year at Target Field, taking his attempt into the ninth inning.
On their way to their first win of the season, the Twins scored an insurance run in the eighth inning, stringing together three straight hits from Andrelton Simmons, pinch-hitter Nelson Cruz and Luis Arraez to give their bullpen some breathing room. After a couple scary moments with two outs in the ninth — home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor was struck by a foul ball and a Brewers trainer crumpled to the ground after coming out to check on Bucknor (both were OK) — Alex Colome sealed his first save as a Twin.
And while Berrios didn’t make history, he did do what he set out to do.
“We needed that first win of the year and I had a chance to bring it to the team,” Berrios said. “That pumped me up and I did what I did tonight.”