Gimenez’s 2 homers help Berrios

Published 7:49 am Friday, June 16, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — After going deep twice in a game for the first time in his big league career, Chris Gimenez still has more mop-up relief appearances this season than home runs.

Wait, maybe the Minnesota Twins have this whole thing backward with their backup catcher.

“Hopefully I’m one of the better hitting pitchers in the league,” Gimenez said with a wide smile, after his pair of drives on Thursday spurred the Twins to a 6-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Eduardo Escobar sparked a five-run first inning with a two-run shot, and Jose Berrios (6-1) took over from there by pitching a career-best eight innings to win his third straight start. The first-place Twins raised their home record, the worst in the major leagues, to 14-20 with the four-game series split.

Gimenez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the fateful first for Ariel Miranda (6-3), who lost for the first time in 10 starts for the Mariners and lasted only four innings with 10 hits and six runs allowed. Gimenez then hit the foul pole in left field with a solo drive in the third inning, giving the 34-year-old a total of 18 home runs in 867 plate appearances.

“I had to talk to it a little bit as I was running to first,” Gimenez said.

His conversations with Berrios throughout the afternoon turned out well, too, driving a strategy to mix in some changeups with a lively fastball that the right-hander spotted well and that devastating curveball.

“We had chances to kind of get close but could never mount the big rally against him,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

Berrios struck out six and yielded two runs and five hits. After finishing six innings only once in 14 starts as a rookie last season on his way to an 8.02 ERA, Berrios has lasted that long in five of seven turns this year.

“I was blessed to be able to go as far as I did today,” he said through the team’s interpreter.

Berrios silenced a lineup that totaled 45 hits and 27 runs over the first three games of the series, handing the Mariners just their sixth loss in the last 18 games.

“Sometimes it takes them awhile to get comfortable and trust what they can do up here,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We all never really lost hope that he was going to figure it out.”