In what’s looking more and more like a lost season, the Minnesota Twins are turning their attention to the future.
Jose Berrios will be back in the spotlight Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles in the promising rookie’s follow-up to his first major league win.
This series has been shortened to a two-game set after inclement weather forced a the postponement of Monday’s opener.
Owner of the worst record in the AL and having lost nine of 10, Minnesota (8-23) hopes it can find a silver lining in a talented young core that includes Berrios (1-1, 6.75 ERA), the organization’s top pitching prospect. The 21-year-old offered a glimpse of his vast potential by outperforming Dallas Keuchel in his second major league start and helping deal the reigning Cy Young winner his first home loss since August 2014 on Wednesday.
Berrios allowed a pair of solo homers but just three hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 6-2 victory, offsetting five walks by registering eight strikeouts.
“He was unbelievable,” catcher John Ryan Murphy, who’s since been sent to Triple-A in a roster shakeup, told MLB’s official website. “He’s an ultra-competitor. His stuff is electric.”
Minnesota starters rank last in the AL with a 5.05 ERA, but the club has received positive early results from Berrios and Tyler Duffey, who struck out nine over seven innings of Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Duffey received little support with the Twins hitting .207 during a five-game losing streak.
“We’re at the point that we are looking for some encouraging points to what we’re doing,” manager Paul Molitor said.
Minnesota similarly struggled at the plate when swept in a season-opening series at Baltimore from April 4-6. The Twins mustered six runs and struck out 35 times in three losses.
“We owe a lot of teams some whuppings, and the Orioles are one of them,” third baseman Trevor Plouffe said.
Baltimore (18-12) had little trouble producing runs the last time out, hitting a season-high six homers in Sunday’s 11-3 win over Oakland. Manny Machado had a grand slam and a two-run shot, while Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop also went deep while collecting three hits apiece.
“It’s about time that we got into a nice little groove,” said Machado, hitting .400 with three homers and 11 RBIs over his last 10 games. “We went out and put some good swings on some good pitches.”
Machado owns a .410 average with two homers in nine games at Target Field, though the Orioles have lost five straight there. Schoop is batting .350 in an 11-game hitting streak, one short of matching a career high.
Another hot Oriole is Kevin Gausman (0-1, 1.42), who comes off arguably the best start of his career. He allowed three hits over eight innings and didn’t issue a walk while striking out four in Thursday’s 1-0, 10-inning win over the New York Yankees.
The right-hander has been very good in each of his three outings, yielding 10 hits in 19 innings with three walks and 14 strikeouts.
Gausman, however, hasn’t had any success against the Twins, going 0-2 with a 6.50 ERA in three starts.
Joe Mauer, who was slated to serve as the leadoff hitter Monday for the first time in his career, is 5 for 8 with a double and triple in their matchups.
”I told Paul a long time ago that whatever gives us the best chance to win and score some runs I’m all for it,” Mauer said.
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier was scheduled to make his return in the opener after missing three games with a sore right hamstring.