Guerrier showing improvement with rest

Guerrier showing improvement with rest

DETROIT -- Matt Guerrier admits that it was tempting to make some kind of change following a rough end to his 2008 season, in which he posted ERAs of 10.12 and 10.00 in each of the final two months, respectively.

Perhaps he could have changed his arm angle or altered his routine or just have tried something different in order to make sure that those troubles were not repeated in 2009.

But rather than try to figure out the reason for his second-half scuffles last year, Guerrier instead chose a different option -- he stuck with exactly what he was doing before.

"Even when I was getting hit at the end of last year, I felt like I was making good pitches," Guerrier said. "I just don't think they were as sharp as they were earlier in the year."

That decision not to make any drastic changes seems to be paying off for Guerrier.

With the 1 2/3 scoreless innings he threw in Monday night's win over the Tigers, the right-hander extended his streak of appearances without allowing a run to six (a total of eight innings). Over that span, Guerrier has allowed just one hit and walked two batters.

It's been a reminder of the contribution that Guerrier can make when he's not being overworked like he was during the first half of last season.

"We've always said he's a great pitcher for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He took a lot of beatings because he had a little trouble at the end of last year. But a lot of circumstances put him in some tough situations and we just couldn't do anything about it."

After posting a 3.35 ERA in the first half of 2008, Guerrier didn't have nearly the same success following the All-Star break, as his 8.88 ERA indicated.

During last season, Guerrier didn't want to blame his second-half troubles on fatigue. But after getting a break this winter and then coming back to start throwing again, he realized that the 51 innings he threw before the All-Star break had indeed taken their toll.

The Twins realized that as well, and have been a little more cautious about how much they use Guerrier this season.

The right-hander said that after pitching on back-to-back days recently, he was told that he would get the third day off. While Guerrier tried to make his case that he felt fine to pitch, the message he got in return was that the day of rest wasn't even up for debate.

"That's where I kind of got into the funk last year. I felt good, but you just don't realize how much it wears on you when you throw 50 some games in the first three or four months," Guerrier said. "They've done a great job of keeping us rested. "

The Twins know how valuable Guerrier can be, whether it means giving the club another option for the seventh and eighth inning when Jesse Crain or Jose Mijares need a rest or providing a couple innings at a time when the 'pen is wore down.

The biggest thing is making sure that the club doesn't have to take advantage again of what Gardenhire called the pitcher's "rubber arm."

"He's a guy that, for the last few years, has thrown 70-90 innings out of the bullpen a year, and that's a lot," Gardenhire said. "But the only way that Matty is going to get worn out [this year] is if we have to overuse him by other people not getting it done."

Pitching matchup
MIN: RHP Kevin Slowey (4-0, 5.17 ERA)
After retiring the first six batters he faced in his start against the Royals, Slowey found himself in trouble in each of his next three innings. The right-hander would pitch just five innings in the contest, allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out four. But Slowey was able to come out with a win, as he received plenty of run support once again. He came into his last start receiving an average of 9.57 runs per outing, the highest of any of the Twins' starters. He did not issue a walk for the third time in five starts this season. He leads all active pitchers in the Majors since the start of the 2008 season with the fewest walks allowed, having issued just six over that span. He's 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in one career start vs. Baltimore.

BAL: LHP Mark Hendrickson (1-4, 5.79 ERA)
In his loss to Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay on May 1, Hendrickson had a good curveball for the first three innings and then got a couple of pitches up in the zone, and he gave up four runs in the fourth that proved his undoing. Hendrickson allowed too many baserunners in his stint of five-plus innings, as the Blue Jays had nine hits, two walks and a hit batter against him.

The Twins entered Tuesday's game with seven triples on the season. The only team in the American League with more is the Royals (11). ...With their split of the two-game series with the Tigers, the Twins' record in series this season is now 3-4-2. ... Michael Cuddyer extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single in the ninth inning of Tuesday's loss. During the streak, Cuddyer has gone 10-for-22 (.455)

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Up next
• Thursday: Twins (Glen Perkins, 1-2, 3.34) at Orioles (Brad Bergesen, 1-0, 5.17), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Friday: Twins (Scott Baker, 0-4, 9.15) vs. Mariners (Chris Jakubauskas, 1-3, 5.76), 7:10 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Twins (Francisco Liriano, 1-4, 5.30) vs. Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 4-1, 3.38), 6:10 p.m. CT

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.