Jose Berrios put together one of his best starts of the season against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. Too bad Angels starter Patrick Sandoval put together one of the best of his career.
The Minnesota Twins were held without a hit for 8⅓ innings at Target Field before Brent Rooker broke up Sandoval’s no-hitter with an opposite-field double. Two batters later, a Josh Donaldson double that scored Rooker even gave the Twins a glimmer of hope. But Minnesota’s bats awoke too late as Miguel Sano struck out to end the game, a 2-1 loss.
“That young man threw the ball, I mean, exceptionally well. One of the best starts I’ve seen in a long time,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Sandoval. “He was in control of everything that he did tonight.”
One hit, one error, one walk and one hit batter kept Sandoval’s outing from being perfect. The third-year pro struck out 13 while throwing 108 pitches over 8⅔ innings. After allowing the hit to Rooker, Sandoval forced Max Kepler to line out. With one out left to go, the Angels replaced Sandoval with Raisel Iglesias, who immediately gave up the double to Donaldson before coming back and striking out Sano to end the game.
Rooker’s hit kept the Twins from being no-hit for the first time since 2012, when the Angels’ Jared Weaver threw a no-hitter against Minnesota in Anaheim. It also kept Minnesota from being no-hit for the first time ever at home.
“I was trying to make him beat me a different way if he was going to beat me… because he’d been doing a really good job fading that changeup down and away to right-handed hitters,” Rooker said. “I thought he had finally hung a changeup. Turned out to be a slider… I was able to kind of put the oopsie swing on it and get a lucky hit there.”
Sandoval’s performance put a damper on what was otherwise one of the best starts of the year for Berrios, who allowed no earned runs for the first time since Minnesota’s season opener.
The only blemish came in the first inning. With Shohei Ohtani on second base after a double, Justin Upton grounded a ball to shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who rifled the ball to Jorge Polanco at second in hopes of catching Ohtani off guard, to no avail. Polanco then threw to first, but his throw was misjudged by Sano, going right past the first baseman’s glove and bouncing out of play, giving Ohtani a free walk home. Two batters later Jose Igleisias hit a double to plate Upton. Both runs were unearned.
“I know there was a little oddness to the play, but it’s a play we need to make, probably should’ve been through that inning with no runs,” Baldelli said, “and then once (Berrios) settled in he was great.”
Berrios pitched seven innings and allowed three hits and no walks without having his swing and miss stuff. He struck out just four and pitched to contact much more than previous starts, Baldelli said.
But questions after the game quickly moved away from his performance to the potential finality of it. Without a contract for next year and extension talks reportedly at an impasse, Berrios has found himself in the middle of trade talks, with the deadline looming on Friday. But Baldelli wasn’t entertaining the thought.
“It’s actually not something that I’ve focused any attention on,” Baldelli said. “We know what time of the year it is. But I think I’ve said before, speculating around the trade deadline and anticipating things happening, it’s not the recipe we show up to the field with every day.”
Berrios said he joked with his wife pregame about the possibility, but he said he hopes it won’t become a reality.
“We are good in Minnesota. We are enjoying it so far, our stay here. I want to keep doing that for hopefully six, seven, eight more years.” Berrios said.