Berrios strikes out career-high 13 in Toronto’s domination over Twins

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TORONTO – Jorge Polanco and Jose Berrios played alongside each other for years in the Twins organization, even living together in the minor leagues. The two chatted ahead of Friday's series opener, catching up on how each other's families are, what's new in their lives since Berrios departed for the Blue Jays in a trade last July.

But when Polanco stepped up to the plate in the first inning Saturday to face his former teammate, all the memories and fondness washed away, replaced instead with sheer determination. And at least for that first at-bat, Polanco came out the victor, smashing a two-run homer.

But it was almost entirely downhill from there for the Twins. Berrios snuffed Polanco on his final two at-bats and stacked up a career-high 13 strikeouts against his former team, leading the Blue Jays to a 12-3 drubbing at Rogers Centre.

"His stuff seemed like it was as good as it's been all year long. I think this was the best Jose Berrios that's probably pitched in 2022," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I'm not surprised to see it against us. I'm sure he was excited to come out here and face a bunch of his guys, his friends, and he showed up."

Berrios previously faced the Twins two times last September following the trade, but Saturday was by far his best outing. The two-time All-Star went seven innings, giving up only the two runs on three hits and two walks. The final five of those innings were hitless and scoreless.

"I just tried to be the Jose Berrios who I am, and I did it. I just tried to concentrate, be fresh, focus pitch-by-pitch, and I did it," Berrios said. "… I just attacked them and [tried to] be ahead on the count, and [it] worked."

Polanco's homer accounted for all of the Twins' runs until Jose Miranda came home on Mark Contreras' groundout in the ninth inning. Toronto did not have that problem, taking as many hits and runs off starter Dylan Bundy as they did off the Twins bullpen.

Bundy went only 2⅓ innings, surrendering six runs (five earned) on eight hits, including two homers, and a walk with two strikeouts. Relievers Ian Hamilton, Yennier Cano and Juan Minaya combined to give up six earned runs on eight hits, five walks and three strikeouts.

BOXSCORE: Toronto 12, Twins 3

"This is a tough one to swallow because I felt really good. Probably some of the better stuff I had," Bundy said. "Just the command wasn't there [Saturday]. And even when I did make quality pitches, some of them get hit pretty hard. I think it just wasn't my day, really. … I've got to control the count more times than not for me to have success."

Since winning his first three starts of the season, Bundy is 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA in his past six starts; the Twins have lost all six games.

Saturday's game was a pretty dramatic reversal from when the Twins (31-24) thrashed Toronto 9-3 on Friday, when it was the Twins bullpen holding the Blue Jays without a hit or a run in the last six innings to end their eight-game winning streak.

Polanco, at least, took some satisfaction from the game despite the loss, saying it feels "really good" to hit a home run off anybody — but especially off Berrios, since he's very talented and a friendly rival now.

But when asked if that meant he was proud of his pal for his baker's dozen strikeouts, Polanco wouldn't go that far.

"No," he said with a laugh. "He pitched a good game. But … we were trying to do better than what we did [Saturday]. He just beat us."