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Twins hope rest given bullpen helps

Twins hope rest given 'pen helps

MINNEAPOLIS -- If one positive came out of Minnesota's 3-2 loss against Oakland on Monday, it was this: The Twins were able to rest a beleaguered bullpen.

Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn pitched eight innings. Jessie Crain gave up a hit and a walk without securing an out to begin the ninth before Craig Breslow was summoned to clean up the mess.

The Twins' bullpen has struggled recently, or more accurately, a sect of it has been a big problem. The club's four right-handed setup men -- Brian Bass, Matt Guerrier, Boof Bonser and Crain -- have given up 22 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings since the start of August. The left-handers -- Dennys Reyes and Breslow -- and closer Joe Nathan have been a different story: three earned runs in 23 2/3 innings.

"They're fine," Twins manager Gardenhire said of the bullpen. "They are frustrated because they want to do well. But I don't think they come out here going, 'Oh my.' I think they'll take the ball. They are gamers, they always have been. ... You just have to work your way through it. ... We think they'll be fine."

Guerrier is 0-2 with a 19.89 ERA in nine appearances since July 31.

"I'm not going to back off now -- we need him," Gardenhire said. "He's been a big reason why we are here, and we need him to get people out."

Of course, the team still has Nathan at the back of the bullpen -- he of the 33 saves and 1.02 ERA.

Gardenhire refuses to attribute recent problems to bullpen fatigue.

"If they are tired, they should be tired. It's August and they've got a lot of innings in," Gardenhire said. "This is where, as they say, "Suck it up Bunky, we gotta go.'"

Pitching matchup
MIN: RHP Kevin Slowey (9-8, 3.94 ERA)
Slowey, who hadn't allowed a first-inning run in his previous 18 starts, finally gave up one against the Yankees on Wednesday. Slowey, however, went six innings while allowing one earned run on three hits and a walk in a 4-2 Minnesota victory to improve to 6-2 with a 3.30 ERA in his past 10 assignments. This will be Slowey's first appearance of the year against the A's.

OAK: RHP Sean Gallagher (4-5, 4.50 ERA)
After missing a start because of right shoulder soreness, Gallagher came back with a shaky outing against the Rays, giving up three runs on four hits while walking four and fanning four in four innings en route to a no-decision. Gallagher said he felt fine, though, so he will look to go deeper into the game in his first career start against the Twins. He'll also be looking for the first road win of his career in his 17th career start.

Randy Ruiz got his first career Major League start -- at designated hitter -- against a right-handed pitcher. "He's swinging good, [against] righties, lefties. He's been on the ball. ... I like the way he's swinging and he's gotten some big hits for us," Gardenhire said. .... Alexi Casilla began his rehab assignment on Monday night with Class A Beloit. He went 1-for-3 with a run scored and walked twice. ... Triple-A Rochester infielder Matt Macri was named the International League Hitter of the Week for Aug. 11-17 after slugging 1.105 with four homers and nine RBIs, ... The Twins are 5-15 when committing more than one error in a game.

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Up next
• Wednesday: Twins (Francisco Liriano, 3-3, 4.97) vs. Athletics (Dallas Braden, 3-2, 4.50), 12:10 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Twins (Scott Baker, 7-3, 3.91) at Angels (John Lackey, 10-2, 3.22), 9:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Twins (Glen Perkins, 10-3, 4.17) at Angels (Joe Saunders, 14-5, 3.14), 9:05 p.m. CT

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

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