ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Luis Arraez has tripled three times in his brief career, and all three have driven in runs. On Friday, he even managed that trick while leading off an inning.
That's because Arraez's blast over center fielder Adolis Garcia's head came in the 10th inning, with runner-without-portfolio Willians Astudillo placed on second base before the start. Astudillo trotted home, the Rangers eventually forced Arraez and Jorge Polanco home with bases-loaded walks, and the Twins won back-to-back games for only the second time this month, 7-5 in their first game ever at Globe Life Field.
"I'm waiting for that [big] moment," Arraez said, referencing his 2-for-12 drought since returning from a shoulder injury. "And then I prepare my mind. Hey, I need to move the runner and then, that's right, I move the runner."
He did — perhaps the best sign yet that the Twins have changed their extra-inning luck. After losing their first eight 10-inning games of the season, the Twins have now won three in a row.
"It's always fun when we win. That's the most important thing right now," said starter Jose Berrios. "Our pitching is doing a great job."
Well, not always. But no Twin is pitching better than the two-time All-Star.
Berrios gave up two first-inning runs, but then only one hit that left the infield in his next five innings. One infield hit, to open the third inning, wound up costing him another run, but Berrios retired the final seven hitters he faced, striking out seven and walking only one.
"Some nights, you start with being out of control, but it gets going and you say, 'I have to attack more and be more aggressive and hold that advantage that the team gave me in the first inning,' " Berrios said. "So you just go out there, do work, and then we were able to throw into the sixth inning," finishing with 103 pitches.
He left the game with a 4-3 lead, in line to become the third American League pitcher with eight wins. It didn't happen because Rangers rookie phenom Adolis Garcia swatted a 100-mph fastball from righthander Jorge Alcala into the right field seats. But the night was still another reminder that not everything and everyone on the underachieving Twins is underperforming personally. And that few things buoy a team over the grind of a six-month season than a starting pitcher who can be relied upon. That's Berrios so far this season, 7-2 entering Friday's game, a .778 winning percentage on a team with a .397 win rate of its own.
Even more remarkable: The Twins had not lost a Berrios start since May 7 in Detroit, going 6-0 with him on the mound in the interim. They are 15-21 with anyone else starting in that span.
"That was Jose going out there and doing his job in a game where he probably didn't feel what he wanted to early on," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "His changeup looked especially good. They have some left-handed hitters in that lineup, some pretty good ones. He went to that pitch in key situations even more than he normally would, because he was feeling pretty good."
So was Trevor Larnach, who hit his first home run of June in the sixth inning. And Arraez, ultimately.
Texas reliever Josh Sborz "threw fastball inside, [but] I don't want to hit the ball. And he threw a really good breaking pitch, I don't want to hit that ball," Arraez said of his 10th-inning game-winner. "And then I waited for the fastball in. And then that's why I got the barrel on the ball."