Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 5/22/13
The following numbers equal how long Minnesota's starting pitchers have lasted the past four games: 4 13, 4 13, 4, 2. The last one should be taken with a grain of salt, as right-hander Mike Pelfrey went just two innings in Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The game was halted for over an hour thanks to a rain delay and a power failure with the lights. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Pelfrey lobbied to go back out for the third inning, but Minnesota's skipper didn't want to take any chances with a guy who is still coming off Tommy John surgery. So Gardenhire instead opted to turn to his bullpen as Anthony Swarzak came in to relieve Pelfrey for the third inning. "You get to that certain point after him coming off of what he's been through, there's no chance we were going to run him back out there," Gardenhire said of Pelfrey. "He really wanted to go back out, though, said he felt good. We're just not going to press that this early in the season. Swarzy came in and did just fantastic." With Pelfrey's early exit, Tuesday was yet another taxing night for Minnesota's bullpen. But the Twins relievers were solid in relief until the late innings. Swarzak pitched four innings and allowed just one run a solo homer by Brian McCann while Casey Fien and Jared Burton combined for two scoreless innings. After Minnesota took a 4-3 lead, closer Glen Perkins blew his first save of the year when pinch hitter Evan Gattis hit a solo home run in the ninth inning to send the game to extras. An extra-innings game was about the last thing the Twins' bullpen needed. Left-hander Brian Duensing relieved Perkins in the bottom of the 10th inning. After retiring the first two batters he faced, Duensing gave up a double to Jason Heyward, intentionally walked Justin Upton and gave up the game-winning run on a single by Freddie Freeman. "We had the right people in there. It just didn't work out," Gardenhire said. The inability to pitch deep into games plagued Minnesota's rotation last year. Over the last week or so, that problem has again reared its ugly head. In all, five different relievers in the Twins' bullpen were forced to pitch a combined 7 23 innings in Tuesday's loss. Now the Twins have to turn things around and get ready for a noon E.T. start. After using five relievers on Tuesday, Minnesota's bullpen may be a bit thin for Wednesday's series finale. "We'll kind of regroup here and see where we're at," Gardenhire said. "Pitching wise, I know guys will take the ball." No update on Plouffe: It was a scary moment in the top of the 10th inning when Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe took a knee to the head as he slid into second base. Plouffe remained on the ground momentarily before walking off the field. Eduardo Escobar replaced Plouffe defensively in the bottom half of the inning. After the game, Gardenhire didn't have an update on Plouffe, only saying that he was being looked at by the team's medical staff. "He got hit pretty hard," Gardenhire said. "They're doing testing on him right now. We'll know more later." The play was reminiscent of the one that knocked Justin Morneau out for the remainder of the 2010 season with a concussion. At this point, the Twins are obviously hoping that Plouffe's injury is far less serious. But Minnesota's third baseman appeared a bit woozy as he walked off the field Tuesday in Atlanta. FOX Sports North's Kevin Gorg contributed to this report. Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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