Berríos tops old team, Blue Jays increase lead, beat Twins
TORONTO (AP) — José Berríos pitched into the seventh inning to beat his former team, Bo Bichette homered in a five-run first inning and the Toronto Blue Jays increased their lead in the playoff race by beating the Minnesota Twins 5-3 Sunday.
Toronto now leads the New York Yankees by 1 1/2 games for the second AL wild-card spot. The Blue Jays are one game behind Boston for the top slot.
The Blue Jays have 13 games remaining. The Yankees have 12 and Boston has 11.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had three hits and an RBI as the Blue Jays improved to 15-3 in September. Toronto (84-65) is a season-best 19 games above .500.
Traded to Toronto on July 30 after six seasons with the Twins, Berríos (12-9) faced his ex-teammates for the first time. He allowed three runs and four hits to win for the fourth time in five starts.
“I felt like I was playing back in Puerto Rico in my backyard with a lot of friends I know from a long time ago,” Berrios said. “I enjoyed this a lot today.
Berríos improved to 5-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 10 starts with the Blue Jays.
“Since Jose got here, he’s been helping us a lot,” Guerrero said through a translator.
Berríos left to a standing ovation after giving up Ben Rortvedt’s solo home run in the seventh.
“This was a start we’ve seen before from José Berríos, except usually he’s walking into our dugout,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
“We were able to get a few licks in there, we just weren’t able to get enough,” he said.
Trevor Richards struck out three of the four batters he faced and Jordan Romano finished for his 19th save in 20 chances.
Minnesota lost for the sixth time in eight games.
With an off day Monday, Baldelli decided to empty his bullpen for the series finale. Minnesota opened with right-hander Luke Farrell, who hadn’t allowed a run in three September appearances.
Farrell (1-1) struck out George Springer to begin the game, but the Blue Jays followed with seven straight hits. Marcus Semien doubled and scored on Guerrero’s single, and Bichette followed with his 26th home run. Toronto’s 237 homers are the most in the majors.
Four more singles followed, including RBI hits by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Breyvic Valera, before Danny Jansen grounded into a fielder’s choice and Farrell retired Springer for a second time to end the inning.
Farrell is the son of former Blue Jays manager John Farrell. His brother, Shane, is Toronto’s scouting director.
Minnesota’s Nick Gordon hit a two-run double off Berríos in the fourth.
Following the game, Guerrero and Donaldson met behind home plate to exchange jerseys and share an embrace amid cheers from the crowd of 14,601. Guerrero said he asked Donaldson for a jersey during Saturday’s game and the Twins slugger said he wanted one of Guerrero’s, so they hatched a plan for Sunday’s swap.
“He told me, ‘Stay focused and keep working hard to the end,’” said Guerrero, who was a third baseman in Toronto’s minor league system when Donaldson was starring at third for the Blue Jays.
HOME SWEET DOME
Toronto is 21-9 at Rogers Centre since returning north of the border July 30.
Berríos has now faced all 30 big league teams.
Blue Jays: Toronto put LHP Hyun Jin Ryu (neck soreness) on the 10-day injured list and recalled LHP Tayler Saucedo from Triple-A Buffalo. Ryu has an 8.10 ERA over his past eight starts.
Twins: RHP Joe Ryan is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Cubs. Ryan left last Tuesday’s start against Cleveland after being struck on the wrist by a batted ball. … Donaldson was hit on the right elbow by a pitch from Berríos in the fourth but finished the game.
Blue Jays: LHP Robbie Ray (12-5, 2.64) starts Monday in the opener of a three-game series at Tampa Bay. Ray is 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA in five starts against Tampa Bay this season. The Rays have not named a starter.
Twins: RHP Griffin Jax (3-4, 6.65) starts Tuesday as Minnesota visits Chicago for a two-game interleague series against the Cubs. RHP Alec Mills (6-6, 4.50) starts for Chicago.
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