Patrick Reusse
See more of the story

The Baseball Writers Association of America granted a chapter to the Twin Cities to coincide with the arrival of the Twins for the 1961 season. There was only one award publicized at season's end, and that went to Harmon Killebrew as the team MVP.

A year later, the chapter went into a plaque-awarding frenzy, adding a Twins' Pitcher of the Year, Outstanding Rookie, Most Improved Player and an Upper Midwest Player of the Year.

The Pitcher of the Year award bears the name of Joe Haynes, former big-leaguer, husband of Thelma Haynes, owner Calvin Griffith's sister and partner. Joe died in 1967 from a heart attack that struck while he was shoveling snow at his Hopkins home.

The competition for the Haynes award at the end of some seasons has been phenomenal, such as 1988, when Frank Viola went 24-7 and beat out Allan Anderson, the league ERA champion at 2.45, and closer Jeff Reardon with 42 saves.

That was the third Haynes Award for Viola, although outdone in '88 with his winning the Cy Young Award.

As this flop of a Twins season winds down, the Twin Cities chapter has voted on our awards, with the results yet to be revealed.

Thus, it was merely the presumed Twins 2021 Pitcher of the Year taking the mound on Friday night at Target Field. And, strangely, he would not be out there until the bottom of the first.

Jose Berrios moved permanently into the Twins' rotation on May 13, 2017, and made his last start on July 24, 2021, also at Target Field. In those four seasons and almost two months, he made 157 starts without missing a turn.

He was traded to Toronto on July 30, bringing two highly rated prospects. The Twins had played 103 games when the trade was made and had played 50 since then entering Friday. In those 50 games, the leader in several Twins pitching categories had not changed.

Jose Berrios, traded by the Twins to the Blue Jays on July 30, still leads his former team’s pitchers in most statistical categories.
Jose Berrios, traded by the Twins to the Blue Jays on July 30, still leads his former team’s pitchers in most statistical categories.

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Innings: Berrios 121 2/3, with Michael Pineda next at 103 2/3. Strikeouts: Berrios 128, over injured Kenta Maeda's 113. Starters WHIP: Berrios, 1.044 hits/walks per inning over Bailey Ober, 1.230. Starters ERA: Berrios, 3.48 over Pineda's 3.73.

Berrios was making his 11thstart for the Blue Jays. He pitched against the Twins last week in Toronto. I listened to most of that game through a Blue Jays satellite radio broadcast and discovered this:

The 27-year-old righthander gained more than a chance to compete in a wild-card race. He also gained an appreciative audience.

Berrios left the game leading 5-3 with two outs in the seventh and wound up with his fifth Toronto win. The runs against him came on a two-run bloop double by Nick Gordon and a home run by Ben Rortvedt, the light-hitting rookie catcher.

Ben Wagner, doing the Blue Jays' radio broadcast as a solo, offered several superlatives as Berrios left the mound to a loud ovation in Rogers Centre. One of those was "fantastic,'' as I recall.

Here in Minnesota, two All-Star games and 32 starts a year had not convinced a large share of Twins fans that Berrios was a true top-of-rotation starter.

My theory has been Berrios' nearly 200 innings with an ERA in the middle 3.00s will be impossible for the Twins to replace in the near future. There's considerable promise in Ober, 26, and Joe Ryan, 25, but the remainder of the top prospects have pitched very limited innings for the past two years (COVID cancellation in 2020, ailments in 2021).

On Friday, Berrios wound up being outpitched by Ober, the 6-9 righthander. Jose wound up as a 3-1 loser in this homecoming, sending the Blue Jays into desperate days in the AL wild-card race.

The capital offense for Berrios was walking Andrelton Simmons to open the third. Luis Arraez followed with a triple into the right field corner. Bryon Buxton hit the next pitch onto the greenery in center field.

Presto, 3-0 Twins, and nearly all of the seven or eight rockets the Blue Jays hit wound up in Twins gloves.

"I threw pretty good, but not in the third,'' Berrios said in a postgame interview. "I walked Simmons, that's what mattered. And a triple, and then the home run… I left that pitch in the middle to Buck.''

Asked about the return to Target Field as a visitor, Berrios said: "It was different, coming from the other dugout. I still enjoy pitching in this ballpark. … I remember some faces in the stands. I enjoyed tonight.''

Although not so much those five minutes in the third. Walk to the No. 9-hitter. Triple. Home run. Ballgame.