Innings piling up for effective Twins relievers

Bullpen logs 5 1/3 scoreless during Saturday's loss to Astros

Innings piling up for effective Twins relievers

MINNEAPOLIS -- While the Twins have been playing well of late, winning seven of their last nine, it's mostly been in spite of their starting pitching.

Twins starters have failed to get deep into games, and it was again the case in a 4-1 loss to the Astros on Saturday night at Target Field. Right-hander Mike Pelfrey lasted just 3 2/3 innings, marking the eighth straight game for Minnesota that a starter failed to go at least six innings.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins stifled by Fiers, Astros

Twins stifled by Fiers, Astros

MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Fiers couldn't replicate the no-hitter from his previous outing, but tossed six-plus innings of three-hit ball to lead the Astros to a 4-1 win over the Twins on Saturday night at Target Field.

Fiers, who threw a 134-pitch no-hitter against the Dodgers on Aug. 21, was given extra rest and looked sharp against Minnesota. The right-hander allowed one run on three hits and three walks to improve to 2-0 with 2.25 ERA in five appearances with Houston since being traded from Milwaukee. But he left after taking a comebacker from Eddie Rosario off his hand in the seventh after hitting Trevor Plouffe with a pitch.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hicks headed to Rochester for rehab stint

Center fielder, recovering from hamstring strain, could return Friday

Hicks headed to Rochester for rehab stint

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks worked out without any issues at Target Field on Saturday, and is set to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on Sunday.

Hicks, on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 19 with a left hamstring strain, left for Rochester on Saturday night. He hit on the field and ran before Saturday's game against the Astros and was cleared to start his rehab assignment.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins go for series win over Houston behind Santana

Twins go for series win over Houston behind Santana

This weekend's series at Target Field was supposed to feature the top two 2012 draft picks -- Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton. Through two games, that hasn't happened yet. Buxton has started both games but, Correa, the No. 1 overall pick, has been sidelined with a sore hamstring and is day-to-day. Whether or not Correa plays, at least one will be on display in Sunday's finale of a three-game series.

Astros rookie Lance McCullers, the 41st overall selection in 2012, will make his second start since being recalled from Double-A Corpus Christi. The Astros are trying to preserve McCullers so he is fresh down the stretch. The rookie is 5-4 with a 3.12 ERA in 15 games this season.

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Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sano returns to lineup after hamstring injury

22-year-old slugger has 12 homers in 48 games

Sano returns to lineup after hamstring injury

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins rookie slugger Miguel Sano returned to the lineup against the Astros on Saturday after missing Friday's game with a minor right hamstring injury.

Sano returned as the club's designated hitter and batted cleanup, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk in a 4-1 loss. He was held out for precautionary reasons on Friday, as Twins manager Paul Molitor didn't want to risk further injury, but Sano told him before the game he felt better and was ready to return. Sano spent the early part of the day walking around the Minnesota State Fair with Byron Buxton with several promotional appearances along the way.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gibson outduels Kazmir as Twins blank Astros

Gibson outduels Kazmir as Twins blank Astros

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson tossed 5 1/3 innings to get his first win since July 12 while helping the Twins earn a 3-0 victory over the Astros on Friday night at Target Field.

The Twins have won seven of eight and remain a half-game behind the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card spot, while the Astros remain five games ahead of the Angels in the AL West.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Perkins fires scoreless 7th in healthy return

Perkins fires scoreless 7th in healthy return

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins closer Glen Perkins returned to action after missing three games with lower back spasms, tossing a scoreless seventh inning in Friday night's 3-0 win over the Astros.

Perkins, who first felt the back spasms while warming up prior to his appearance against the Orioles on Sunday, was eased back into the bullpen, as he pitched in the seventh inning for the first time since May 2, 2012. He fared well in his return, picking up two strikeouts and getting an infield popup.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gibson looking to build off 1st post-break win

Gibson looking to build off 1st post-break win

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Gibson was undoubtedly the Twins' best starter in the first half, posting a 2.85 ERA in 18 outings, but he hasn't looked the same in the second half.

Gibson, though, took a step forward on Friday night, tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings to lead the Twins to a 3-0 win over the Astros. It was his first victory since his final start of the first half on July 12, as he entered 0-3 with a 7.22 ERA in seven outings since the All-Star break.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Twins' status changing from 'surprise' to 'contender'

Molitor, Sano keeping Minnesota in thick of AL Wild Card race

Twins' status changing from 'surprise' to 'contender'

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was asked before the season if he would have had to wait so long for his first manager's job if he had played a few years in the Major Leagues. He had a quick answer.

Maddon, a catcher who never played above Class A, said he would have been hired more quickly if he had played one day in the big leagues. He's probably right, but tell that to first-year Twins skipper Paul Molitor.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins take solace in their winning road trip

Twins take solace in their winning road trip

ST. PETERSBURG -- After starting a 10-game road trip with a three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the Twins were in danger of slipping out of the playoff race with seven games on tap against the contending Orioles and Rays.

But the Twins righted the ship, winning six straight games until a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night at Tropicana Field. So while it ended with a defeat, the Twins still came away mostly satisfied with their 6-4 road trip through the American League East.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins fall out of Wild Card spot with loss to Rays

Twins fall out of Wild Card spot with loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Joey Butler hit a game-tying single and scored on a passed ball to help the Rays snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Twins on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.

The Twins (65-62) entered the game tied with the Rangers for the second American League Wild Card spot and finished 6-4 on the road trip. By winning, the Rays (63-64) avoided a sweep while moving to within two games of the Twins in the Wild Card standings.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sano hits 'quirky' double off Tropicana Field catwalk

Sano hits 'quirky' double off Tropicana Field catwalk

ST. PETERBURG -- Twins rookie slugger Miguel Sano hit one of the more unusual doubles of the season in Thursday night's 5-4 loss to the Rays, as he crushed a high drive off left-hander Drew Smyly that hit the "B" ring at Tropicana Field and remained in play for an RBI double.

With two out in the third and Brian Dozier at first base, Sano smacked an 0-1 fastball to left-center that would have been a homer, but instead hit the catwalk. Dozier scored from first on the play, while Sano held at second base.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twin Cities kids thrilled by Play Ball event

Twin Cities kids thrilled by Play Ball event

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Twins first baseman Joe Mauer and manager Paul Molitor were more than 1,500 miles away from their hometown Wednesday night as the team took on the Rays in Florida, but around 60 other St. Paul ballplayers took the field back in Minnesota as part of the Play Ball initiative.

"I have said it many times. I think the capital of baseball in this state probably is St. Paul," Twins president Dave St. Peter said to a crowd of kids ages 8-14. "How can you not say that when you think of the history of baseball in this community and the number of great players that this city has turned out?"

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Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins beat Rays, take over 2nd Wild Card spot

Twins beat Rays, take over 2nd Wild Card spot

ST. PETERSBURG -- Minnesota continued to roll on Wednesday night with a 5-3 win over Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field to claim its sixth consecutive victory and move into the top spot for the second American League Wild Card.

With the Angels' loss to the Tigers and Rangers falling to the Blue Jays, the Twins (65-61) have leapfrogged past them and now have a half-game lead over Texas and a one-game lead over Los Angeles in the AL Wild Card race.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Small ball helps Twins keep on rolling

Small ball helps Twins keep on rolling

ST. PETERSBURG -- Twins manager Paul Molitor has stressed to his players how bunting can be a weapon all season, and it paid off against the Rays on Wednesday.

A pair of bunt singles from Byron Buxton and Brian Dozier off Tampa Bay ace Chris Archer in the seventh inning loaded the bases and helped spark a two-run rally to lift the Twins to their sixth straight win with a 5-3 victory over Tampa Bay.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Berrios allows three hits in seven scoreless for Red Wings

Twins No. 2 prospect strikes out a season-high 12 for Triple-A Rochester

Berrios allows three hits in seven scoreless for Red Wings

It's reached the point where each of Jose Berrios' starts for Triple-A Rochester might be his last.

The Twins' No. 2 prospect (No. 23 overall) was at his best Wednesday night, allowing just three hits and one walk in seven scoreless innings as Rochester defeated Syracuse, 6-0.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins activate Boyer, place Graham on DL

Twins activate Boyer, place Graham on DL

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Twins reinstated right-hander Blaine Boyer from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday and placed Rule 5 Draft pick J.R. Graham on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation.

Boyer made an immediate impact on Wednesday, tossing two scoreless innings in the Twins' 5-3 win over the Rays.

"It was nice to have Blaine available," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We found a way to hang on."

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rookie trio leads Twins to series-opening win

Sano, Rosario go deep while Buxton tallies a pair of hits

Rookie trio leads Twins to series-opening win

ST. PETERSBURG -- After years of hearing about top prospects Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario, the future is finally here for the Twins, and the trio came up big yet again on Tuesday against the Rays.

Buxton, Sano and Rosario combined to go 5-for-13 with two homers, a triple, a double, two walks, five RBIs and five runs scored to help the Twins to an 11-7 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field. It was the fifth straight victory for the Twins, who now trail the Rangers by a half-game for the second American League Wild Card spot. Minnesota improved to 5-0 with Buxton and Sano in the lineup together.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins' three homers top Rays in slugfest

Twins' three homers top Rays in slugfest

ST. PETERSBURG -- A game between a pair of Wild Card contenders was, well, wild on Tuesday night as a heated offensive battle took place in an 11-7 Twins win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

With the win, the Twins improved to a two-game advantage over the Rays in the cluttered race for the American League's second Wild Card spot. The loss moved the Rays back below .500 for the season (62-63). The Twins are now a half game back in the race, while the Rays are 2 1/2 games behind in the second Wild Card following the Rangers' loss to the Blue Jays.

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Rhett Bollinger and Bill Chastain are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins wait to decide Boyer's next step

Right-hander may be activated or go on rehab assignment

Twins wait to decide Boyer's next step

ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-handed reliever Blaine Boyer threw a bullpen session without any issues on Monday, and the Twins will decide whether he'll be activated from the 15-day disabled list or sent out on a rehab assignment.

Boyer, on the DL retroactive to Aug. 9 with right elbow inflammation, is eligible to be activated, but with rosters expanding on Sept. 1, the Twins could decide to send him on a rehab assignment instead.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Breaking down Sano's game-changing tools

Twins rookie blends patience, power and consistency in historic start to career

Breaking down Sano's game-changing tools

ST. PETERSBURG -- When the Twins called up Miguel Sano from Double-A Chattanooga on July 2, they were hoping the 22-year-old could help spark the offense as the club's everyday designated hitter.

Sano has done just that and more in a historic start, as he became the fastest Minnesota rookie to reach 10 homers, doing it in 41 games. He's shown power and patience at the plate, hitting .288/.397/.582 with 11 homers, 12 doubles and 34 RBIs in 44 games.

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Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dozier's hustle sparks Twins' wild rally

Sliding single, Plouffe's clutch hit pave way for comeback

Dozier's hustle sparks Twins' wild rally

BALTIMORE -- The first eight innings of Minnesota's 4-3 win Sunday afternoon were fairly boring for the Twins, with the exception of Miguel Sano's two-run homer in the first.

After three collecting three hits in the opening frame, the Twins saw 17 batters go up to the plate and quickly return to the dugout as Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman mowed through the lineup. It wasn't until a Manny Machado error in the seventh inning that the Twins saw another baserunner.

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Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins jump on errors in 12th to sweep O's

Twins jump on errors in 12th to sweep O's

BALTIMORE -- The Twins pounced on a pair of 12th-inning errors Sunday afternoon as Minnesota beat Baltimore, 4-3, to complete the four-game series and seven-game season sweeps of the Orioles.

Manny Machado and Jimmy Paredes both recorded errors in the 12th, with the second allowing Eduardo Escobar to come across for the winning run. The game wouldn't have made it to extra innings if it weren't for Trevor Plouffe's two-out RBI single in the ninth that tied the game at 3. The inning started with a leadoff infield single from Brian Dozier, which provided the groundwork for Zach Britton's third blown save of the season.

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Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hughes likely sidelined until September

Twins starter progressing slowly from lower back injury

Hughes likely sidelined until September

BALTIMORE -- Twins starter Phil Hughes is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list this week but isn't expected to rejoin the team until after rosters expand on Sept. 1, according to manager Paul Molitor.

"Hughes has progressed slowly," Molitor said. "He's not close to being ready this week, so that's not going to be a question we have to ponder until probably as we expand rosters in September to see where he's at."

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Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Small ball comes up huge for Twins

Minnesota executes hit-and-run, squeeze in pivotal inning

Small ball comes up huge for Twins

BALTIMORE -- You hear it all the time, "The little things matter." It's one of the most overused sayings in baseball, but the Twins proved its validity in Saturday night's 3-2 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Minnesota's seventh inning was as good an example as any for how to manufacture runs, as it included a leadoff walk, a hit-and-run, a safety squeeze and an RBI single.

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Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cotts joins Twins after trade from Brewers

Lefty brings experience to bullpen; Achter optioned

Cotts joins Twins after trade from Brewers

BALTIMORE -- As the Twins filed into the clubhouse before Saturday's game with the Orioles, Neal Cotts stuck out from the rest of the group, carrying a Brewers equipment bag with the No. 48 imprinted on it.

The veteran lefty was not only walking into a different locker room, but also a different situation after being traded from the Brewers to Minnesota on Friday night for a player to be named or cash.

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Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Buxton's first RBI lifts Twins over O's

Buxton's first RBI lifts Twins over O's

BALTIMORE -- Top Twins prospect Byron Buxton collected his first Major League RBI on Saturday night, and it couldn't have come at a bigger time, as the rookie's single propelled Minnesota past the Orioles, 3-2.

"He's a young kid who is extremely talented and he is kind of finding his way up here," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "There are going to be days where it's going to be a little challenging for him as he adjusts to what the pitching is like up here on a regular basis. But it was nice to see him get his first RBI in a big situation."

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Connor Smolensky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Red Wings' Berrios fans 10, leads Minors in K's

Minnesota's No. 2 prospect is Minor League strikeout leader after fanning 10 for Red Wings

Red Wings' Berrios fans 10, leads Minors in K's

Jose Berrios looks like he's ready for the Major Leagues.

The Twins' No. 2 prospect (No. 24 overall) dominated on Friday for Triple-A Rochester, allowing one earned run on five hits in seven innings in the team's 3-2 14-inning loss to the RailRiders. The right-hander struck out 10 batters and did not issue a walk, throwing 70 of his 102 pitches for strikes.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.