Schneider on pulling Berrios: 'Tough to take him out'
The Toronto Blue Jays removed starter Jose Berrios after just 47 pitches in the fourth inning of Wednesday's season-ending 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins in Game 2.
Berrios had not given up a run in three-plus innings and came out of the game in favour of Yusei Kikuchi, who allowed the only two runs of the ballgame to cross the plate. Kikuchi came into the game with three of Minnesota's next four hitters due up being left-handed.
After Berrios walked Royce Lewis to lead off the fourth inning, manager John Schneider called for Kikuchi to face left-hander Max Kepler, who singled to the right side. Pinch-hitter Donovan Solano walked and Carlos Correa singled up the middle to give the Twins a 1-0 lead with the run -- and eventual loss -- being charged to Berrios. Kikuchi then induced a double-play, scoring the second Minnesota run, before getting Ryan Jeffers to end the inning.
"When you're so diligent with your work and you trust the people you're working with and the people you're kind of going to battle with both on the field and off, you just try to make the best decision that you can for the guys that are on the field to win," Schneider said after the game.
"We had a few different plans in place. Jose was aware of it. He had electric stuff. Tough to take him out. You know, I think with the way they're constructed, you want to utilize your whole roster and it didn't work out," Schneider said.
Infielder Whit Merrifield was no fan of the move.
"I hated it, frankly. It’s not what cost us the game, but it’s the kind of baseball decisions that are taking away from managers and baseball, at this stage of the game," he said.
All in all, Berrios allowed three hits and a walk, striking out five hitters in three-plus innings in Wednesday's must-win Game 2.
"I don't have control of that," Berrios said if he felt he was robbed by the decision to take him out. "I just control what I can control. Like I say, I pitched my ass off from [the first pitch] to the last pitch, 47."
The 29-year-old Berrios was 11-12 this season with a 3.65 ERA in 189.2 innings spread out over 32 starts. Kikuchi did not pitch out of the bullpen this season and had a 4.91 ERA in 12 bullpen outings in 2022.
Despite the loss, Berrios said he sees reason for optimism in 2024.
"I still believe in this group. We have great talent. This year was a rough year, a lot of ups and downs. But at the end of the day we battled and find a way to stay all together and get to this point in the season. So, next year I know is going to be better, that's in my faith.