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Strong pitching a big reason for better start to season

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MINNEAPOLIS -- After slow starts the last two seasons, the Twins are off to a better start this year, as they entered Thursday's game against the Rangers above .500 at 9-8.

It's a much different feeling than last year, when the Twins started out 9-24 and never recovered. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire warned that he's going to find out more about his club during the tough stretch coming up.

"We're on a stretch here where we have four against these guys, and then Detroit, Cleveland and Boston, and that's just the road trip," Gardenhire said. "And then we come home for more. So we're going to have to be up to the task. We need to be able to continue that to keep our heads up."

Gardenhire pointed to better pitching so far this season, as the Twins entered Thursday's game with a 4.14 ERA, which includes an impressive 2.52 ERA from Minnesota's relievers.

The Twins have also allowed the fewest walks in the Majors with 40, while also walking 71 times on offense.

"Our history around here has been pretty good about both of those stats," Gardenhire said. "We haven't had many big strikeout guys, but we've always been one of the best teams in the league in not walking people. And I expect that."

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

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