Minnesota will send right-hander Michael Pineda to the mound against Milwaukee right-hander Adrian Houser on Sunday afternoon in the rubber game of their season-opening three-game series in Milwaukee.
It’s fair to say both pitchers have some pretty big shoes to fill.
Minnesota, which blew a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning in an eventual 6-5 loss in 10 innings on Opening Day, evened the series with a 2-0 victory on Saturday in a contest that featured dueling no-hitters between Twins starter Jose Berrios and Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes.
Byron Buxton broke up Burnes’ no-no with a 411-foot homer with one out in the seventh. Berrios, meanwhile, left after six innings and turned his no-hitter over to the bullpen, which allowed just one hit, a single down the right field line to catcher Omar Narvaez, with one out in the eighth off Tyler Duffey.
Duffey, who had walked Lorenzo Cain just prior to Narvaez’s hit, pitched out of the jam by striking out Daniel Vogelbach and getting Billy McKinney to fly out to right. Alex Colome then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save with the Twins.
Burnes struck out six in a row in the second and third innings and finished with 11 strikeouts, while Berrios matched his career-high with 12 strikeouts. It marked the first time since Aug. 2, 2014 that two teams were no-hit after six innings when the Giants and Jake Peavy did it against the Mets and Jacob deGrom. According to StatsByStats, it also marked the first time opposing starters had 10-plus strikeouts while allowing one or fewer hits in the same game in the modern era.
“One of the best outings I’ve seen from him in three years,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said of Berrios, who threw 84 pitches, 55 for strikes, including 18 swings and misses. “Dominant.”
Baldelli said Berrios, who said on a postgame TV interview that he was unaware he still had a no-hitter when he left the game, didn’t lobby to stay in.
“Really, what he would be lobbying for would be to pitch another inning,” Baldelli said. “Say he’s at 95 (pitches) or something along those lines (after) an efficient inning in the seventh. Then we’re taking him out anyways. … The outing that he gave us was so phenomenal, I think he can go to bed tonight feeling really, really good.”
“They were both equally good,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “They were pitching so well that the hitters didn’t appear to ever be in a good position in an at-bat — on both sides. Credit to both pitchers. They pitched wonderfully. Credit to Buxton. The pitch looked down and away and give him credit for hitting a good pitch.”
Buxton also hit a career-long 456-foot two-run homer off the scoreboard in left-center in Thursday’s opener off reliever Eric Yardley. The home run in Saturday’s game came on a 96 mph cutter on the outer half of the plate that he drove into the bleachers in right-center.
“It was basically the same exact pitch we threw before and he fouled off,” said Burnes. “I was trying to expand (the strike zone) a little bit with two strikes and basically threw the same pitch. You throw the same pitch back-to-back to big league hitters, they’re going to get you. It wasn’t a bad pitch, but he went and got it.”
Pineda, who went 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts in 2020, will be making his first career start in Milwaukee and only his second overall against the Brewers. He left with a 4-3 lead after allowing three runs on three hits and striking out six in six innings in a May 27, 2019, contest in Minneapolis. Milwaukee rallied to win 5-4.
Houser comes in off a 1-6 season with a 5.30 ERA in 12 games and 11 starts, including a 4-2 home loss to the Twins on Aug. 10. Houser allowed a third inning grand slam by Eddie Rosario. He is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two career games, and just the one start, against the Twins.
–Field Level Media