Right-hander Jose Berrios will attempt to win his eighth game of the season on Thursday night when the Minnesota Twins open a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians at Minneapolis.
Berrios (7-2, 3.56 ERA) has a 5-3 record and 3.91 ERA in 14 career starts against the Indians. He has made 10 consecutive starts since his last defeat, a 1-0 loss at Oakland on April 20, and has won five of them.
Berrios left with a 4-3 lead in his last start on Friday night at the Texas Rangers, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out six over six innings. The Minnesota bullpen coughed up the lead in a game the Twins eventually won 7-5 in 10 innings.
The injury-ravaged Indians, who are without reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber (right shoulder strain), Zach Plesac (broken right thumb) and 10-game winner Aaron Civale (right middle finger) in their rotation, will turn to right-hander J.C. Mejia (1-2, 6.11 ERA) in the series opener.
Mejia, who will be making his fifth career start, made his major league debut May 21 against Minnesota in relief of Triston McKenzie in a 10-0 loss at home and allowed one hit and no runs in 2 1/3 innings while striking out five.
Mejia, pitching on short rest, struggled in his most recent start on Friday at Pittsburgh, allowing six runs, including five in the first inning, on seven hits over a career-high five innings. He threw 77 pitches as the Indians continued to stretch him out.
"I will say once the damage was done, other than the solo homer (to Brian Reynolds in the third), he got us through five," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "I'm not even talking about winning the game, I'm just talking bullpen. It really helped a lot that he was able to do that."
Minnesota will enter off a 10-7 loss to visiting Cincinnati on Tuesday afternoon which snapped a season-high five-game winning streak for the Twins.
The Reds had a 7-2 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth but Minnesota rallied to tie it on a two-run home run by Max Kepler, a long solo shot into the second deck in right-center by rookie left fielder Trevor Larnach and a two-run double off the middle of the scoreboard in right-center by Alex Kirilloff.
Cincinnati came back to win it on a three-run homer by Tyler Naquin in the ninth off Hansel Robles, who was pitching for the fourth time in five days.
Despite the loss, Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli was pleased with his team's effort.
"No matter what really came our way today, our guys kept playing," Baldelli said. "The at-bats were good. We kept putting runs on the board. We had a lot of good swings. I mean, looking at our lineup card and looking at all the guys, we had a lot of guys go out there and put good swings on the ball today."
Having a day off on Wednesday was much-needed for a Twins bullpen which played a key role in a 7-5, 12-inning victory on Monday night that ended with Miguel Sano hitting a walk-off home run.
"We have ridden our bullpen hard," Baldelli said. "Our guys took the ball on days where several of those guys probably, on a different week, would have been completely down."
--Field Level Media