Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Jose Berrios allowed six runs — five earned — in just over an inning of work in Puerto Rico’s 9-6 loss to Venezuela at the World Baseball Classic Sunday.
Berrios allowed a three-run home run to Baltimore Orioles slugger Anthony Santander as part of a four-run first for Venezuela, which included lead-off hitter Jose Altuve coming around to score after reaching on an error. He was then lifted from the game after Altuve hit a double and Luis Arraez followed that up with a single to start the second. Reliever Fernando Cruz replaced Berrios and gave up a three-run home run to Salvador Perez that scored Altuve and Arraez.
The final line for the 28-year-old right-hander was five hits, six runs (five earned) with one walk and two strikeouts on 38 pitches.
Berrios is looking to have a bounce-back season with the Blue Jays after he struggled with consistency in 2022 and posted a 5.23 ERA with a league-leading 199 hits allowed. During the winter, the Blue Jays and Berrios analyzed his issues managing the strike zone and developed a plan to deliver more quality pitches this season.
“It was more physical. It was more mechanical,” Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi earlier in spring training. “He kind of lost the feel for certain pitches based on that and we wanted to restructure and make sure the mechanics were in order. Then there is the part where you want to get back to locating pitches in the right spots, in the right counts, and really having an approach that we’re going to stick to. I feel like that’s where we are right now.”
To that end, the Blue Jays are not concerned by Berrios’ start at the WBC on Sunday.
“I thought everything that he was working on here he was doing there,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said Monday. “You got to kind of take it for what it is, I think everything is kinda magnified a little bit in that WBC environment but he’ll have a better one next time out for sure.”
Berrios made two spring training starts for the Blue Jays before departing for the WBC, both against the Phillies: A two-inning scoreless outing on Feb. 28 and a three-inning appearance on March 5 in which he allowed two runs on five hits. In both spring starts, he had two strikeouts.