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Twins relievers effective despite heavy workload

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DETROIT -- With Twins starters not going deep into games, the club's relievers have been called on to eat innings but have stayed effective.

The Twins haven't had a starter go more than five innings since Vance Worley went six on Friday against the Red Sox. But Worley only went 3 2/3 innings on Wednesday and was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after his start.

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So manager Ron Gardenhire has been going to his bullpen much earlier than he's wanted, which caused the Twins to call up an eighth reliever in Caleb Thielbar before Monday's game in Atlanta.

"We've been using a lot of them," Gardenhire said. "We're just going based on how they're feeling but we're not trying to kill any of them. We'd like to go every other day with some of these guys. But it would be nice to get a deep start and use the right guys at the end."

With the starting rotation struggling, Minnesota relievers have combined to throw 160 2/3 innings entering Thursday, which ranks as the third-highest total in the American League, but they've still been able to post a 3.08 ERA that ranks third in the AL.

"They've had to a pitch a lot but they've pitched well," Gardenhire said. "But they're just pitching a lot."

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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