MINNEAPOLIS -- Tyler Robertson is proving himself to be a valuable asset in the Twins' bullpen. His two big outs in Tuesday's win over Baltimore were the latest example.
Clinging to a 4-3 lead, the Twins called on Robertson with one out in the sixth and a man on first base. He induced a groundout from Nick Markakis, then the Twins elected to intentionally walk J.J. Hardy to get the left-hander working against Jim Thome, whom Robertson looked up to as a youngster.
Robertson responded with one of the biggest strikeouts of his young career, preserving Minnesota's lead.
"It was a fun situation to be in," Robertson said. "Thome was one of my favorite players growing up, so it was pretty exciting. I was ready for the challenge and it worked out."
Robertson owns a 4.70 ERA in 7 2/3 innings since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester on June 25. But he's dominated lefties, holding them to a .222 batting average and striking out nine of the 18 left-handed hitters he's faced.
"When we get in situations like this, this is where you get an opportunity," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've had so much trouble with pitching. So he was down there, throwing the ball pretty decent, and got an opportunity. He's come up here and proven that he can get some lefties out."
It's decisions like Gardenhire's, to match Robertson up against a future Hall-of-Famer in Thome, that show the club's belief in the 24-year-old.
"I'm confident in getting those guys out," Robertson said. "Knowing that the coaching staff has that confidence in me to go get those guys is a big boost."