MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Jose Berrios set a career high with 11 strikeouts over 7 2/3 scoreless innings, while Robbie Grossman sparked the Twins offense to help Minnesota split a doubleheader against the Rockies with a 2-0 win on Thursday night at Target Field.
The highly regarded Berrios, making his second start of the season, was dominant for a second straight outing. The 22-year-old scattered two hits, two hit batters and a walk Thursday, and he has now allowed one run over 15 1/3 innings this year. It was the first time this season the Twins had a 10-strikeout performance and the club's ninth dating back to 2011.
"I just have more confidence," said Berrios, who had an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts as a rookie in 2016. "It shows my work in the offseason and Spring Training has paid off. I've been able to get ahead of hitters, and with my confidence, it's 100 percent [better] compared to last year."
The Rockies' Ian Desmond saw Berrios during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, when he represented Puerto Rico as an 18-year-old, and in Grapefruit League Spring Trainings before joining Colorado this season.
"He was electric," said Desmond, who went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and hit by pitch against Berrios. "That was up there. I felt like I was grinding with him. He was making really good pitches. I felt like I was really locked in, and he was having success.
Berrios outpitched Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who was hurt by a high pitch count and five walks in his five innings of two-run ball. The Twins scored early on a two-out RBI single from Max Kepler in the first to score Grossman, who had singled and stolen second. Grossman added an RBI single in the fourth to score Ehire Adrianza, who had led off with a double.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Kepler robs Parra: After Berrios plunked Desmond to open the second, Gerardo Parra ripped a hard liner into right-center for what looked to be extra bases, but Kepler made a running catch in the gap to retire Parra and keep Desmond at first. Kepler needed to go 84 feet to make the catch in 4.6 seconds, giving it a catch percentage of 35 percent. It was rated as a four-star play by Statcast™. It also helped Berrios, who eventually stranded Desmond at third. He had advanced on a balk and a wild pitch, but back-to-back strikeouts ended the inning.
"He went a long way," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He has the ability to do those types of things. He's a guy who trusts his athleticism. That's one of those plays where it goes up and you turn your back and hope you run to the right spot."
Chatwood works out of jam: The Twins had the chance to break the game open with the bases loaded and two outs in the third, but Chatwood struck out Byron Buxton to end the threat. Buxton had been swinging the bat well in the series, but Chatwood struck him out on four pitches, culminating on a 1-2 cutter out of the strike zone.
With the exception of a couple electric outings, including a two-hit shutout against the Giants on April 15, Chatwood has struggled with his control, and too often this season, walks have preceded home runs. This time, he limited the damage.
"I had been walking a lot of guys and I hadn't been able to strand guys," Chatwood said. "I stranded guys today."
Chatwood said he tried to correct mechanical flaws during the first three innings but pitched better after he "worried about throwing the ball over the plate. … I'll try again on my sides and see if I can carry it into the game."
"I can't say we were desperate for a win, but you come off a good trip and let the last game of the trip get away and then get off to a rough start with a couple tough ones. It was a long day at the park. We all know that. So to be able to salvage that, that's a credit to [Berrios]." -- Molitor, on the Twins winning the series finale
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The 11 strikeouts from Berrios were the most by a Twins starter since Ervin Santana also struck out 11 on Sept. 5, 2015. Santana was also the latest Twins pitcher to reach double-digits in strikeouts with 10 on Aug. 21, 2016.
DEPENDABLE RELIEF Chad Qualls, Scott Oberg and Carlos Estevez -- up from Triple-A Albuquerque as the Rockies' allotted 26th player for the doubleheader -- held the Twins scoreless for the final three innings. In the three-game series, Rockies relievers posted 10 scoreless innings in the series. For the season, Colorado's bullpen carries a 1.72 ERA on the road.
Rockies manager Bud Black was especially pleased with Estevez, a second-year man who could become a key figure once he irons out delivery issues. He gave up a double and a walk but struck out two, "throwing 96-98 with a hard slider and a good change," Black said. "Do I think he's getting closer to being a productive Major League pitcher at some point? Yes."
The Rockies unsuccessfully challenged a play in the eighth, when Twins catcher Jason Castro was ruled safe at second on a force play on a grounder hit to Rockies second baseman D.J. LeMahieu by Adrianza. After a review, the play stood as called to load the bases with two outs. But Estevez struck out Brian Dozier to get out of the jam.
WHAT'S NEXT Rockies: Left-hander Tyler Anderson (2-4, 6.43 ERA), with 18 combined strikeouts in his past two starts, will open a three-game set against the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Friday at 5:10 p.m. MT.
Twins:Hector Santiago (4-2, 3.80) will start the series opener against the Royals at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday at Target Field. Santiago spun five innings of one-run ball in the win over the Royals earlier this season. Minnesota has won all five meetings against Kansas City this season after going 4-15 in 2016.