Berrios bounces back early, attacks zone

Berrios bounces back early, attacks zone

CLEVELAND -- After giving up three runs to the Indians in the first inning, it looked like it could be another rough showing for top pitching prospect Jose Berrios, who made his long-awaited return to Minnesota's rotation on Monday.

But Berrios, who posted a 10.20 ERA in his first four Major League starts before being sent back to down to Triple-A Rochester in mid-May, was able to turn it around for his best big league start to get his second career win. The right-hander, ranked as the No. 16 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com, went six innings, allowing three runs on four hits with five strikeouts in a 12-5 victory at Progressive Field.

Berrios quickly retired the first two batters he faced, but he ran into trouble when Francisco Lindor singled and Mike Napoli was hit by a pitch before an RBI single from Jose Ramirez and a two-run double from Lonnie Chisenhall. Berrios went on to retire 15 in a row, and he didn't give up another hit until a two-out single from Ramirez in the sixth after Napoli reached on an error by center fielder Eddie Rosario.

"I was missing my spots, trying to throw fastballs in but throwing them over the middle," Berrios said of his rough opening frame. "After the first inning, through the second to the sixth, I was able to make my pitches and be more successful."

Twins manager Paul Molitor said he talked to Berrios after Rosario hit a game-tying solo homer in the second, and it helped the 22-year-old rookie relax.

"I told him we were back at square one, and let's get back to work," Molitor said. "He settled in. Sometimes early in the game, it takes a while. But I thought he was better than the first time around in terms of using his fastball and getting ahead."

Berrios, who was 10-5 with a 2.44 ERA in 16 starts with Rochester, including a 1.46 ERA over his last eight outings, also credited a change in mentality for his better showing in his return. He attacked the strike zone more, as evidenced by the fact he didn't walk a batter for the first time in his five career starts.

"In my mind now, I'm up here to compete and be here for a long time," Berrios said. "I need to be consistent with my off-speed stuff and be aggressive all the time. That's what I did and what I want to do the rest of the year."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.