Twins' Jose Berrios at the All-Star Game: 'I'm here, I'm so happy'
WASHINGTON—In his All-Star Game debut, Twins pitcher Jose Berrios got the chance to face a close friend, as well as a Puerto Rican baseball legend.
The Twins' only representative at the Midsummer Classic, Berrios was the fifth pitcher used by American League Manager A.J. Hinch on Tuesday night, July 17, and turned in a scoreless inning that was not without drama.
"Awesome," Berrios said of his experience. "You know a lot of people enjoy the game, watching us play baseball, so we're putting all our effort, all our passion and 100 percent every time so they enjoy it tonight."
Berrios entered the game in the fifth inning with the AL leading 2-1 on homers by Aaron Judge and Mike Trout.
Sporting a video camera on his cap as he jogged In from the bullpen, he spoke briefly on the mound with catcher Salvador Perez of the Royals before starting his warmups, and the footage was shown on the Fox telecast
"I said, 'Hey, say hi to the camera' and he do it," Berrios said, "and the people watching love it."
With the winds picking up in advance of a storm, Berrios got Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras to ground to shortstop Manny Machado on a 2-0 fastball.
Facing close friend Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs, Berrios' first pitch—a 97 mph fastball — was outside and went to the backstop.
"The All-Star Game is one day a year, so I'm gonna throw 100 percent," Berrios said. "So I just throw the ball at the plate and see what happens."
He recovered and got Baez to fly to right fielder Mookie Betts on a 96 mph fastball, and the two were seen talking to each other as the play ended.
"He was laughing and smiling," Berrios said. "He's my (future) brother-in-law, so I enjoy watching him play baseball."
After walking Nolan Arenado of the Rockies on four pitches, Berrios faced another fellow Puerto Rican, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, a nine-time all-star. Arenado launched a first-pitch fastball to straight-away center, where it was hauled in by Trout on the warning track with the crowd on its feet.
"Scared me a bit, but I wanted to throw a fastball for both guys and if they hit a homer everybody enjoys it too," Berrios said.
The 24-year-old Berrios was joined in Washington by his wife and three children, who were at the game. He got to watch Baez compete in Monday night's Home Run Derby, where the right-handed hitter lost in the first round to lefty Max Muncy of the Dodgers, 17-16.
"It's tough," Berrios said before Tuesday's game. "I thought last night the ball carried more to right field than left field. He competed, he hit 16 homers, but the other guy beat him."