MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — José Berríos waited and watched the Minnesota Twins celebrate with mixed emotions.
The Toronto Blue Jays were just swept in the AL Wild Card Series for the second straight season, but his friends and former teammates stopped a long playoff losing streak.
Berríos, who was lifted by Toronto manager John Schneider after a leadoff walk in the fourth inning, found his former pitching coach, Luis Ramirez, in the chaos of Minnesota’s party. He offered his congratulations after the Twins advanced with a 2-0 win in Game 2 on Wednesday.
An offseason of wondering what might have been lies ahead for Berríos and the Blue Jays.
“It was a weird feeling because right now we are on this side of the dugout,” Berríos said. “The Blue Jays where I got really proud, where I’ve been giving my 100%. But at the same time, it was Minnesota, the city that watched me grow up in the big leagues.”
In Toronto’s clubhouse following Game 2, there was much emotion. Every teammate and staff member went across the room and shared hugs and some tears.
After winning 89 games in the regular season, the Blue Jays were swept for the second straight season under Schneider and for the third time in four seasons overall.
“Upset, you know, unfortunately, this is two years in a row that we’ve been kicked out in two games,” said third baseman Matt Chapman, who is eligible for free agency. “So, just disappointed with how the season ended up with how close of a group we have and how hard everybody worked this year.”
Toronto’s deep lineup sputtered in Minnesota. It scored just one run and had one extra-base hit total in the two games.
Even with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, the Blue Jays had no answer for the Twins’ pitching and defense. They also had trouble on the basepaths, with Guerrero getting picked off second in Game 2.
“We didn’t score runs,” Bichette said. “Can’t win without scoring runs.”
Asked where the Blue Jays go from here, Bichette said he wasn’t sure.
“We got beat up two years in a row in the playoffs,” he said. “So, I think there’s a lot of reflection needed, from players but from the organization from top to down. Everybody needs to reflect to see what we can do better. So, I think that’s the next step.”
Schneider took his time talking to his team after the game. The doors to the clubhouse were closed for several minutes before reporters were allowed in.
“I do think with the guys that are here and that will continue to be here, the more often they can be in these situations, it’s going to be great for them going forward,” Schneider said. “So, in talking to them, how they can slow situations down a bit more and more each game in each year they’re in the playoffs, that’s a good thing.”
Several players maintained that the team has enough to compete in the postseason. They’ll have to try again next season.
“I think we had it all, from the coaches to the players to everything,” closer Jordan Romano said. “I feel like we played good and we battled, we just got beat. I wish I could point to something, but I feel like we had it all. We just came up short.”
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB
Brian Hall, The Associated Press