Squirrelly Twins, Berrios dominate Tribe
CLEVELAND — Jose Berrios had no problem handling the Cleveland hitters. Waiting for a squirrel to scram, now that took patience.
Berrios pitched neatly into the eighth inning in his first start of the season and the Minnesota Twins beat the Indians 4-1 Saturday in a game delayed several minutes when a squirrel ran around the field.
“It was fun because I’ve seen that before on TV, but never right in front of me,” Berrios said.
The squirrel appeared from right field with Michael Brantley batting in the Cleveland sixth. Play was halted as the critter cut across the infield, angled past the mound and ran around the home plate area, drawing a loud cheer from the crowd at Progressive Field.
Twins manager Paul Molitor left the dugout to speak with plate umpire CB Bucknor, and Berrios threw up his arms in frustration.
“I still can’t figure that out, how long they were going to let that guy run around out there before someone got him,” Molitor said.
Eventually chased toward left field by members of the grounds crew, the squirrel hopped into the stands and play continued, with Berrios retiring Brantley on a flyball.
“I felt sorry for Berrios because he was throwing a great game and had to wait, but it was fun to watch,” said Twins right fielder Max Kepler, who homered. “That guy crawled down the wall right past me.”
The home fans had little else to holler about as Cleveland was held to three hits for the second straight game by Minnesota.
“Those type of things are funnier when you’re ahead,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Kepler connected earlier in the sixth. The Twins have hit a home run in 14 straight games, their longest streak since 1988.
Berrios and the AL Central leaders handed Cleveland its third straight loss.
Called up from Triple-A Rochester on Friday, Berrios (1-0) gave up one run and two hits in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one.
The right-hander was 3-0 and led the International League with a 1.13 ERA in six starts at Rochester. He 3-7 with an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts for Minnesota last season.
Brandon Kintzler pitched the ninth for his 10th save and third in three games.
Cleveland broke a 17-inning scoreless stretch on Berrios’ wild pitch in the third. Minnesota won the series opener 1-0 Friday night.
The Twins’ output in the fourth consisted of two walks, two wild pitches, a bunt hit, a throwing error by pitcher Mike Clevinger (1-1), a run-scoring groundout and Jorge Polanco’s RBI single.
Minnesota has won 11 of 15 overall and is 11-4 on the road.
Clevinger allowed three runs and three hits while walking five in 4 1/3 innings.
Carlos Santana tripled in the third with two out on a drive to the center field wall. Byron Buxton leaped and got a glove on the ball, which bounced toward the field as Santana reached third.
“You’ve got to be excited about what we saw out of Jose,” Molitor said. “He knows he had to fight to get back up here, and he attacked their hitters and limited the damage.”
Cleveland newcomer Edwin Encarnacion was 0 for 4 with a strikeout in the ninth inning, dropping his average to .213.
“I’m never going to feel frustration because I know what I can do,” the slugger said. “It’s a long season. I’m going to keep my head up and keep working hard.”
Encarnacion, who signed a three-year, $60 million contract, has five homers and 11 RBIs.
Indians: OF Lonnie Chisenhall remained in the game after being hit on the right hand by a pitch in the eighth.
Twins: LHP Hector Santiago seeks his first win over the Indians since Oct. 1, 2012. He has pitched against Cleveland 15 times in his career, posting a 2-3 record with a 4.77 ERA.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer allowed four runs in six innings in his last outing, taking a 4-2 loss at Toronto on May 8. He is 1-1 with an 8.18 ERA in two home starts this season.