By Gregory Strong in Toronto
Blue Jays right-hander Jose Berrios had a dead arm in a forgettable start last weekend in Anaheim. It was certainly back to life on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Berrios had a career-high 13 strikeouts against his former team as the Blue Jays pasted the Minnesota Twins 12-3.
“It was good to see how hard he was throwing today and so I knew his arm was back in shape,” said Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo. “He was good to go. He just made the one mistake but other than that, he was 94 or 95 (m.p.h.) the whole time.”
The lone hiccup for Berrios (4-2) came in the first inning when he gave up a two-run homer to Jorge Polanco. Nick Gordon led off the second inning with a double and Berrios didn’t allow another hit over his seven-inning appearance.
“I think this was the best Jose Berrios probably pitched in 2022,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “I’m not surprised to see it against us.”
In addition to the return of his usual velocity, Berrios — who spent parts of his first six big-league seasons with Minnesota — had his slider in peak form. Montoyo said the pitch was “like a Frisbee.”
“We created a plan … I executed it well, so we got a really good result today,” said Berrios, who gave up six earned runs in 2 1/3 innings in his previous start.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Alejandro Kirk homered for the Blue Jays (31-21), who won for the ninth time in 10 games.
Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., each had three hits while Bichette, Kirk, Santiago Espinal and Cavan Biggio chipped in with two hits apiece.
Toronto got on the board in the first inning when Bichette hit a no-doubt solo shot off Dylan Bundy (3-3) into the second deck. It was his eighth homer of the year.
The Blue Jays took the lead with a three-run second inning. Biggio doubled to score Kirk, who led off with a single and moved to second on a Gurriel walk.
George Springer was jammed with an inside pitch but made enough contact for the ball to roll down the third-base line like a bunt. That brought Gurriel home and Biggio later scored when shortstop Jermaine Palacios booted a routine chopper.
The Toronto offence kept at it in the third as Hernandez led off with a triple. Kirk followed with his fourth homer of the year.
Bundy allowed eight hits, five earned runs and a walk with one strikeout over 2 1/3 innings.
Guerrero curled a two-run shot inside the left-field foul screen in the fourth inning for his team-leading 12th homer of the season. The Blue Jays made it a blowout with a three-run eighth.
Toronto outhit Minnesota 16-6. The Blue Jays have won 13 of their last 17 games while the Twins (31-24) have dropped four of five.
Right-handers Julian Merryweather and Trent Thornton worked one frame apiece for Toronto. Announced attendance was 36,987 and the game took three hours and one minute to play.
Baldelli homered in his first career game as a player at Rogers Centre in 2003. He hit a solo shot off Trever Miller while playing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Baldelli hit safely in each of his first 11 games at Rogers Centre.
Toronto will close out its six-game homestand Sunday afternoon. Right-hander Kevin Gausman (5-3, 2.51) is scheduled to start against Minnesota southpaw Devin Smeltzer (2-0, 1.50).
The Blue Jays will head out for a six-game road trip next week that will include stops in Kansas City and Detroit. The Twins will return home for a six-game homestand against the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2022.
Feature image – Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr (13) scores on a check swing single by teammate centre-fielder George Springer as Minnesota Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers (27) looks on during second inning American League baseball action in Toronto on Saturday, June 4, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jon Blacker.