TORONTO (AP) — José Berríos struck out a career-high 13 over seven innings against his former team and the Toronto Blue Jays backed him with three home runs, hammering the Minnesota Twins 12-3 Saturday.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Alejandro Kirk and Bo Bichette homered as the streaking Blue Jays won for the ninth time in 10 games. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. added three hits as Toronto set season highs in runs and hits (16).
Jorge Polanco homered for the Twins, who have lost eight of 12 since a six-game winning streak.
Berríos (4-2) allowed two runs and three hits, matching Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Milwaukee lefty Eric Lauer for the second-most strikeouts in a game this season. Miami’s Sandy Alcantara struck out 14 against Atlanta on May 28.
“I just tried to be the José Berríos who I am, and I did it,” Berríos said. “I just tried to concentrate, be fresh, focus pitch by pitch, and I did it.”
Five of Berríos first six outs were strikeouts, and he finished his outing by fanning the final two batters he faced.
“His slider was huge,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. “It was like a frisbee today.”
After taking no-decisions in his past two starts, Berríos won for the first time since May 17 against Seattle.
“His breaking ball was a real weapon,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It was a tough day for us because of that.”
Polanco, who roomed with Berríos in Minnesota’s minor leagues, said it felt good to connect off his old pal, even if he came up empty in his next two at-bats.
“He was commanding his pitches,” Polanco said. “He was making good pitches to us and he did well.”
Berríos spent parts of six seasons with the Twins before being traded to the Blue Jays last July. The two-time All-Star faced his old team twice last September, going 1-1.
The Twins struck first against Berríos. Luis Arráez led off the game with a single and Polanco hit a one-out homer, his sixth.
“From that point on, there wasn’t a lot going on,” Baldelli said.
Bichette hit his eighth homer off Dylan Bundy (3-3) in the bottom half and Toronto took the lead with a three-run second. Cavan Biggio hit an RBI double, George Springer drove in a run with a dribbler up the third base line and Biggio scored on a fielding error by shortstop Jermaine Palacios.
Teoscar Hernández tripled to begin the third and Kirk followed with his fourth home run.
Guerrero hit a two-run homer, his 12th, off Ian Hamilton in the fourth.
Bundy was tagged for five earned runs and eight hits in 2 1-3 innings, the shortest of his nine starts this season.
“This is a tough one to swallow because I felt really good,” Bundy said. “Probably some of the better stuff I had, just the command wasn’t there today.”
Bundy allowed one earned run through his first three outings of 2022 but has given up 25 earned runs in six starts since.
Berríos fanned 12 batters twice with the Twins, doing it June 24, 2018, against Texas and again April 3, 2021, at Milwaukee, when he tossed six no-hit innings in first start of the season.
Twins RHP Yennier Cano threw consecutive wild pitches in the sixth.
ONE TO FORGET
The Twins set season-worsts in hits and runs allowed, and lost by their biggest margin of the year so far.
Twins: OF Gilberto Celestino was activated off the COVID-IL and RHP Chi Chi González was returned to Triple-A St. Paul.
Blue Jays: LHP Tim Mayza (forearm) will make a rehab appearance with Triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday. … Springer stayed in the game and hit a sacrifice fly after fouling a pitch off his left foot in the seventh. Bradley Zimmer took over defensively in the eighth.
Twins LHP Devin Smeltzer (2-0, 1.50) starts Sunday (11:30 AM, 1060/103.1 KGFX) against Blue Jays RHP Kevin Gausman (5-3, 2.51). Gausman is 0-3 with a 7.30 ERA in seven career games against the Twins, but has not faced Minnesota since 2018.