MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins are looking for a big finish, and José Berríos has turned into a concern for the AL Central leaders.
Berríos surrendered Ronny Rodríguez’s first career grand slam in the sixth inning of Minnesota’s 9-6 loss to the lowly Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
Berríos (10-7) allowed five runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. The All-Star right-hander has yielded at least five earned runs in two of his past four starts after having one such game in the first four months.
“José is a guy we have complete confidence in,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s a guy that we trust that he’s going to be looking for what is next and how to get back to where he’s been for a long period of time. But it’s definitely a point where it’s a little bit of a regrouping point.”
Miguel Sanó and Jake Cave each homered twice for Minnesota, which had its lead in the division trimmed to 2½ games over Cleveland.
Rodríguez had three hits for Detroit, and Drew VerHagen struck out 11 in a career-high six innings. Rodríguez’s 10th homer capped the Tigers’ five-run sixth.
VerHagen (4-2) got another chance in the Tigers’ beleaguered rotation and had the best outing of his career. He permitted three runs and five hits.
“I haven’t had that great of a run on starts in the big leagues,” VerHagen said. “But that felt really good. It felt like me. I was happy with my stuff and just attacking guys. Ronny came up with a big hit there, which was huge for us.”
In four August starts, Berríos has an 8.43 ERA and the Twins have dropped three of the games. He left the Minnesota clubhouse before reporters were allowed in after the loss.
“He’s going to make his next start,” Baldelli said. “He feels good. But finding out where we can get to a point or how we can get to a point where he’s executing the way he can.”
Down 5-3, the Twins loaded the bases in the seventh against José Cisnero. But Buck Farmer entered and got Jorge Polanco to pop out in foul territory to end the inning.
“We know we have a really good team,” Cave said. “We know that a couple losses don’t really mean anything. One day at a time. You know, the old cliché. You can’t really do anything else about it.”
Detroit entered with the league’s worst offense in total runs and batting average. The Tigers had 17 hits Friday night — two shy of their season high — and didn’t let Berríos off the hook in the sixth.
Harold Castro and Miguel Cabrera started the inning with singles and Dawel Lugo hit an RBI double. Berríos walked Travis Demeritte to load the bases in front of Rodríguez’s homer.
Castro and Lugo each had three hits. Rodríguez is hitting .323 with three home runs and six RBIs in eight games since being recalled from Triple-A Toledo.
“I think there’s a little bit of confidence going right now,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’re starting to swing the bats. We know we’re going to have our moments, and we were in a lot of these games.”
Tigers: 2B Niko Goodrum left in the fourth inning with left groin tightness and Gardenhire said he will be placed on the injured list. Goodrum returned Thursday after missing four games with a groin injury. … INF Jeimer Candelario was reinstated from the injured list after recovering from a left thumb injury. He was optioned to Triple-A where he was on a rehab assignment.
Twins: OF Byron Buxton is nearing a return from a left shoulder subluxation after going through a round of full baseball activities before the game. Baldelli said Buxton will go on a rehab assignment “soon.” … OF Eddie Rosario was out of the lineup after leaving the previous game with a hamstring injury. Baldelli said an MRI was “clean” and Rosario said he was doing better.
Tigers: RHP Edwin Jackson (3-6, 8.46 ERA) starts on Saturday. Jackson has a 3.86 ERA for the Tigers this season after losing his last start at Houston, when he allowed five runs in five innings.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (11-6, 4.40 ERA) will make his second start of the season against Detroit. Gibson allowed five runs in five innings in a loss at Detroit on June 8.