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Twins bullpen much improved from last season

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The bullpen has continued to be a strong suit for the Twins, as Minnesota's relievers have combined for a 2.63 ERA entering Friday that ranks second in the Majors.

It's been an improvement on last year, when the bullpen combined for a 3.77 ERA that ranked as the 17th best mark in baseball.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the key has been the starters going deeper into games this year to give relievers specific roles and limit their workload. Minnesota relievers ranked third in innings pitched last year, compared to 10th this year.

"We always talk about not overworking them, but there are going to be times when you have to," Gardenhire said. "They're going to have to step up and do a few extra things. But they've risen up and done just about everything we've thrown at them. They all have their roles and are fitting in pretty good. It seems like no matter who we sent out there, they do a really nice job for us."

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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