MINNEAPOLIS (AP)Jose Berrios pitched six strong innings, Nelson Cruz had three hits and the Minnesota Twins beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3 Tuesday in a game briefly delayed when an unauthorized drone flew over Target Field.
The Twins won their fifth in a row, completed a 7-1 homestand and improved to 9-2 for the second time in the team’s 60-year history. The other was 2001.
”It was a great way to cap off a great homestand and a memorable one at that,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
The game was delayed for nine minutes in the fifth inning and players were pulled off the field when the drone flew over center field. A few pitchers in the bullpen threw balls at the flying intruder, but missed.
”Definitely a 2020 moment right there,” Baldelli said.
Pittsburgh lost its fifth straight game, and at 2-9 has baseball’s worst winning percentage at .182.
A bit wild early, Berrios settled down and allowed one run and four hits. He struck out six, walked three and threw 98 pitches.
”I know I had a rough inning in the second inning. After that we had a talk and we went out and tried to be more relaxed,” he said.
It was the second straight strong start for Berrios (1-1), who allowed two earned runs and struck out six in five innings last Thursday against Cleveland. Considered the team’s No. 1 starter, he was roughed up for five runs and seven hits in four innings on opening day.
Miguel Sano doubled and Eddie Rosario dribbled a single through the shift – a swing where he reached out without moving his feet – as part of a three-run first inning off Joe Musgrove (0-3).
Cruz had a RBI single in the fourth. He has 17 hits, the most hits in MLB history through a season’s first 11 games by a player at least 40 years old.
The Pirates loaded the bases in the second, but Berrios struck out Jarrod Dyson and John Ryan Murphy. Bryan Reynolds tripled in the fourth before scoring on Gregory Polanco’s sacrifice fly.
John Ryan Murphy and Phillip Evans added ninth-inning RBIs. With two on, Trevor May got two outs for his first save.
”Teams that don’t play hard or don’t give consistent effort don’t do what we did in the ninth today,” said manager Derek Shelton. ”You’ve seen guys consistently go hard on every ground ball; you’ve seen us battle through at bats.”
Musgrove allowed five earned runs and six hits in 3 1-3 innings and walked five. In three starts, he has walked 11 in 14 2-3 innings.
”I don’t think I’ve ever walked five guys in a game in my life,” he said.
In his first big league appearance since April 30, 2015, Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar allowed two earned runs in 2 1-3 innings. He was released by the Twins later that year and then pitched for the Padres, Tigers and Braves organizations and spent two years with the St. Paul Saints in the independent American Association.
”The emotions took over me for a couple of hitters there, but (pitching coach) Wes (Johnson) came out and basically just told me to breathe. Once I did that, I was able to kind of pull it together. It didn’t really hit me until after the game,” Thielbar said.
Pirates: JT Brubaker will start Thursday against Minnesota in place of Mitch Keller (left oblique), who was placed on the 10-day IL Sunday.
Twins: 3B Josh Donaldson (calf tightness) missed his fourth straight game, but is ”most likely” to play on a road trip that starts Wednesday, according to Baldelli. … No corresponding move has been made after LHP Rich Hill (shoulder fatigue) was placed on the injured list Monday. Hill said he plans to throw a bullpen this weekend.
Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (0-2) will face the Twins on Wednesday to open a five-game homestand. He struck out six in 4 2-3 innings Friday at Wrigley Field, but walked three.
Twins: Begin a three-city, eight-game road trip Wednesday in Pittsburgh with RHP Randy Dobnak (1-1) taking the hill. The Pittsburgh-area native allowed three hits in five shutout innings Friday against Cleveland, but needed 94 pitches to do so.
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