After opening the season by winning two out of three games against the defending American League Central champion Cleveland Indians, the Minnesota Twins begin an eight-game, three-city road trip on Tuesday night against the Kansas City Royals, their division co-leader.
The Twins’ Jose Berrios (1-0), who struck out 10 while allowing just two hits over 7 2/3 innings while outdueling two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber in a 2-0 Opening Day victory, will oppose the Royals’ Brad Keller (1-0), who also pitched 7 2/3 two-hit innings in a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Opening Day.
Minnesota, which also will visit the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets on the road trip, comes into the opener of the two-game series after pounding the Indians 9-3 Sunday. A 427-foot two-run homer by designated hitter Nelson Cruz was among 15 hits by the Twins. Cruz had three hits, while five other Twins had two each as starter Carlos Carrasco gave up six runs and 10 hits in just 4 1/3 innings.
“It was a good day offensively for the whole group,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You can look up and down the lineup, it was fun to watch.”
Center fielder Byron Buxton, who lined a two-run double off the bottom of the left field fence, told MLB.com, “We build off this. Like we said before we went out today, ‘Don’t try to go out there and do too much. Stay within ourselves. Be ourselves and the game will take care of itself.’ And that’s exactly what we did.”
Minnesota’s starting pitching, considered a question mark entering the season, allowed one earned run in 17 2/3 innings (0.51 ERA) against the Indians while striking out 26 and walking four. Berrios and Jake Odorizzi, who had 11 strikeouts while allowing one run and one hit over six innings in a 2-1 loss on Saturday, became the second pair of teammates in MLB history to have 10-plus strikeouts in the first two games of the season.
“I think the biggest thing that stood out 1/8in the series 3/8 was pitching,” Buxton said. That’s what got us going. They kept throwing up zeros, and once we finally got the bats going, everything else took care of itself.”
No one was more impressive than 2018 All-Star Berrios, who set a Twins’ Opening Day record for strikeouts.
“Yeah, that was impressive,” Indians manager Terry Francona said afterward. “I wish I wasn’t sitting here saying that. But not only was his velocity on his fastball, but he located, and he located it in enough, hard, then he’d throw a changeup off of that. He really manhandled us today.”
Keller, who finished 9-6 with a 3.08 ERA last season, was also impressive in his 2019 debut, allowing two hits, a walk and striking out five over seven shutout innings. The 23-year-old right-hander also didn’t allow a runner to get past first base.
“We kind of expected that from him because we feel he’s going to be a No. 1 starter for us for years to come,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He was outstanding.”
The series concludes with an afternoon game on Wednesday.
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