MINNEAPOLIS — The day after one of their ugliest losses of the season, the Minnesota Twins turned to ace-in-training Jose Berrios for a quick turnaround.
Eduardo Escobar and Eddie Rosario added yet another pick-me-up dose of hustle and muscle, too.
Berrios pitched a six-hitter for his second complete game this season, and the Twins hit three home runs against James Shields in a 7-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday afternoon.
Berrios (7-5) retired his first 14 batters before Omar Narvarez’s double. By that time, the 23-year-old right-hander already had a 7-0 lead. He used 10 strikeouts to win for the fourth time in five starts. Berrios has 44 strikeouts and four walks in 37 2/3 innings over that span, and he has logged a career-best five straight starts of six innings or more.
“Everyone knows when he’s pitching. He’s been on a really good roll here. You feel good about getting deep and having a chance to win, and all those things,” manager Paul Molitor said. “You can tell his confidence is developing.”
With seven games in a six-day stretch this week, the break for the bullpen was a welcomed bonus.
“I don’t know if he’s overly conscious of the fact that I’m hoping he goes nine today, but he kind of pitched like that,” Molitor said, “like he was on a mission to try to find a way to complete the game if he could. And that’s what you want to see. That’s how you build young people up into guys that eventually emerge on the top of your rotation.”
Escobar hit a two-run homer after a double by Rosario in the first against Shields (1-7), who has not won in 12 starts since opening day. Ehire Adrianza added a solo shot in the second inning. Then right after Brian Dozier’s two-out RBI single in the fourth through a shift-created hole at second base, Rosario turned on an 86 mph cut fastball on the inside corner from Shields for a three-run drive just inside the right-field foul pole.
“It was right down the middle, up in the zone,” Shields said, shaking his head about the gopher balls. “They’re good hitters over there, and they took advantage of it. I’ve got to minimize those pitches right there and kind of know the situation a little bit better.”
Rosario leads the Twins with 14 homers and 43 RBIs, and Escobar is close behind with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs. With most of their counted-on colleagues in the lineup either injured or underperforming, the Eddie and Eddie show this year has not only been entertaining but essential.
“Escobar’s offense? It’s awesome,” Rosario said.
Escobar leads the major leagues with 24 doubles. Rosario moved into a tie for third in the American League with his 23rd multi-hit game.
“I love Eddie Rosario, man. Every time he comes to home plate, he’s going to swing,” Escobar said. “I’m so happy to play with him.”
They’re both elated to be playing behind Berrios, who helped the Twins split the four-game series after a 5-2 loss on Wednesday night lowlighted by a number of baserunning, fielding and hitting mistakes.
Yoan Moncado, who struck out four times on Tuesday, hit an RBI double with one out in the sixth inning before Jose Abreu did the same with two outs. That made Berrios mad, but the walk-less start was a bigger deal.
“Trying to control that, to get more deep into the game,” he said. “That’s what I tried to do.”
Shields gave up all seven runs, matching a season high, and eight hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked two. Shields is 0-5 with a 6.60 ERA in his last five starts at Target Field, where he has allowed 13 home runs in 12 starts, the most by a visitor since the ballpark opened nine seasons ago.
“I know he got into trouble,” manager Rick Renteria said. “But boy, I tell you what, he kept grinding, ate up some innings, saved our pen.”
Narvarez was thrown out at home by Rosario from left field ending the fifth when he tried to score on Jose Rondon’s single. The backup catcher was thrown out in the seventh by right fielder Robbie Grossman trying to stretch a single to a double. The Twins have seven outfield assists in their last 14 games.
The White Sox sent LHP Aaron Bummer to Triple-A Charlotte so he could get more work and promoted LHP Xavier Cedeno to take his spot in the bullpen. The 31-year-old Cedeno joined his fourth major league team, pitching a scoreless seventh.
White Sox: SS Tim Anderson, hitting .295 with eight extra-base hits and 13 RBIs in his last 12 games, had the day off so Rondon could see some action.
Twins: 1B Logan Morrison returned to the lineup after back stiffness kept him on the bench for three straight games. He doubled in the first inning.
White Sox: RHP Dylan Covey (1-1, 2.82 ERA) pitches on Friday night to start a three-game series in Boston against former teammate LHP Chris Sale (5-3, 3.00 ERA) and the Red Sox. LHP Carlos Rodon is expected to come off the DL to make his season debut on Saturday, but Renteria declined again to confirm that.
Twins: RHP Lance Lynn (4-4, 5.46 ERA) starts on Friday night in the lid-lifter on a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels, who will send RHP Garrett Richards (4-4, 3.25 ERA) to the mound.