Found August 04, 2013 on Fox Sports North:
Paced by one of the majors' top bullpens, the Minnesota Twins are in position to sweep the Houston Astros, whose relievers continue to cost them games. After a pair of come-from-behind wins, the Twins try to finish off the visiting Astros on Sunday. Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson allowed four runs and nine hits in three innings, but four relievers combined to yield one hit and strike out 10 in Saturday's 6-4 victory. While Twins starters are last in the majors with a 5.19 ERA, their bullpen is second at 2.93. Their relievers have allowed one run and fanned 18 over 17 innings of the last three games. Minnesota (47-60) might again need to rely on its relief corps if scheduled starter Mike Pelfrey (4-9, 5.31 ERA) is unable to bounce back from a rough performance. The right-hander had a 2.28 ERA in his first four July starts, but closed the month by allowing four runs in four innings of a 7-2 loss to Kansas City on Tuesday. "It looked like he was picking at the plate an awful lot rather than attacking the zone," manager Ron Gardenhire said about Pelfrey, who yielded eight hits and threw 93 pitches. "One thing he's been doing is attacking the zone. Pace of the game means a lot. He kind of put everybody on their heels and he understands that." Though he has not faced the Astros (36-73) since 2010 while with the New York Mets, Pelfrey has allowed three runs over 22 13 innings to win three straight starts against them. While Minnesota's bullpen has shined, Houston relievers rank last in the majors with a 5.13 ERA. They've allowed six runs, nine hits and walked seven over 7 23 innings in the series. Starter-turned-reliever Lucas Harrell gave up a go-ahead single to Ryan Doumit in Minnesota's three-run seventh Saturday. Houston's bullpen has posted a 6.55 ERA and blown eight saves while the team has dropped 24 of 30. "This is arguably the toughest stretch which I've witnessed, whether it's as a player, coach, manager, of bullpen woes," first-year manager Bo Porter said. The Astros will recall Brad Peacock (1-3, 8.07) to start Sunday in place of Dallas Keuchel, who pitched 1 23 innings of relief in Friday's 4-3, 13-inning loss. Peacock, who last pitched in the majors June 8, is 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 14 games and 13 starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City. "He's thrown the ball extremely well," Porter told the Astros' official website. "That's obviously factored into the decision-making." The right-hander opened the season in Houston's rotation, but went 1-3 with an 8.44 ERA in five starts before he was moved to the bullpen and sent down to the minors twice. Peacock has never faced Minnesota. Twins leadoff hitter Brian Dozier is batting .304 during a 10-game hitting streak. Houston rookie outfielder Robbie Grossman is 10 for 20 in his last six games.

Twins bullpen plays major role in weekend sweep

MINNEAPOLIS -- During a weekend in which Minnesota's starting pitching faltered, its bullpen stepped up big once again. That was the case in Sunday's 3-2 win over visiting Houston, as the Twins' relievers combined for four scoreless innings to help Minnesota earn a three-game sweep of the Astros. Starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey lasted just five innings, meaning it was...

Twins Saturday: Brian Dozier remains on fire

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier celebrated Friday's 13-inning walk-off win with a postgame Gatorade shower on the field. Saturday's ending was a bit more subdued, but Dozier was still very much a key to the Twins' 6-4 win over the Astros. One night after Dozier had three hits -- including the game-winner -- he helped propel Minnesota with two more big hits. The first came...

Infielder Jamey Carroll pitches scoreless eighth for Twins

With an already overworked bullpen taxed once again, the Twins turned to Jamey Carroll to pitch the eighth inning of Minnesota's 13-0 loss in Kansas City. Yes, 39-year-old infielder Jamey Carroll. Twins starter Kevin Correia lasted just two innings, so Minnesota needed three relievers to get through the next five innings. Wanting to save the bullpen's arms, manager Ron...

Twins' Josh Willingham looks good as rehab assignment set to begin soon

During the madness of the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, we heard rumbling that the Minnesota Twins could still try to move Josh Willingham.  In fact, there were teams interested in a trade while he was still on the DL, but nothing came of those rumors.  That does not mean Willingham won't be traded.  The Twins can still trade him if he clears waivers.  First, he&...

Joe Mauer throwing out runners at high rate

MINNEAPOLIS -- In a one-run game -- especially one that lasts 13 innings -- every play can make a difference. When Twins catcher Joe Mauer threw out Houston's Brandon Barnes at second base in the top of the seventh inning Friday night, it may not have seemed like a game-changing play at the time. Minnesota trailed 2-0 at that point and still had plenty of work to do to get back...

Dozier plays hero several times in Twins' extra-inning victory

Things got crazy in the Twins dugout around the 10th inning Friday as their struggling offense matched up with Houston’s. The Twins were running out of bench players so pitchers began putting their cleats on and reporting for extra duty. ‘‘Panic mode” second baseman Brian Dozier said. ‘‘Pitchers love that stuff. They think they can hit.” As it turned out they just...

Custom baseball bed featured in Twins broadcast auction

MINNEAPOLIS -- When reliever Jesse Crain was pitching for the Minnesota Twins, he was trying to find a baseball-themed bed for his son, Hunter. Not satisfied with what he was finding on the internet, Crain turned to Kurt Weber. Weber is the father-in-law of Crain's former Twins teammate and current Minnesota closer Glen Perkins. A teacher and hockey coach by trade, Weber enjoys...

Arcia's winning homer leads Twins past Astros 3-2

One thing the Twins have noticed about Oswaldo Arcia during his recent tour in the majors is that he’s flying around the bases. He did it Saturday when he hit a booming triple to center. And he did it again Sunday when his home run to right was the winning blow in the Twins’ 3-2 victory over Houston. Arcia wasn’t sure if the ball he hit off Astros righthander Brad Peacock...

Preview: Guthrie seeks to extend Royals' winning ways against Twins

Count Minnesota Twins starter Kevin Correia among those impressed by what the Kansas City Royals have been doing. Correia and Jeremy Guthrie turned in a tight duel last week and will meet again Monday night in the opener of a three-game set in Kansas City. The Royals (56-52) have won 11 of 12 and trail Cleveland by 4 12 games for the AL's second wild-card spot. The Twins are...

Twins-Royals Preview

Count Minnesota Twins starter Kevin Correia among those impressed by what the Kansas City Royals have been doing. Correia and Jeremy Guthrie turned in a tight duel last week and will meet again Monday night in the opener of a three-game set in Kansas City. The Royals (56-52) have won 11 of 12 and trail Cleveland by 4 1/2 games for the AL's second wild-card spot. The Twins...
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