Bullpen falters in Twins’ 4-3 loss to Orioles

Published 8:52 am Friday, July 20, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — For as long as Ron Gardenhire has been around, and perhaps even longer, the Minnesota Twins have lived by a mantra of keeping starting pitchers to 100 pitches or so at a maximum.

After watching his normally reliable bullpen falter late against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, Gardenhire said it may be time to rethink that approach.

Mark Reynolds’ two-run single in the eighth inning backed a strong performance from Wei-Yin Chen and rallied the Orioles to a 4-3 victory over the Twins.

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Cole De Vries allowed one run and five hits with five strikeouts in six innings for the Twins, but the right-hander was pulled with a pitch count of 96 and a bunch of lefties coming up for Baltimore in the seventh. Alex Burnett (3-3) has been very good this season, but he walked two runners in the eighth and Reynolds blooped a single to center field to put the Orioles on top.

The Twins lost for just the fifth time in 38 games when leading after seven innings, and Gardenhire thinks the work load brought on by too many short starts might be taking its toll.

“We have to get deeper starts,” Gardenhire said. “Maybe that’s stretching pitchers out to 115 or 120 pitches for our starters. I don’t know if that’s right either. But we have to figure out a way to get seven or eight innings so we’re not getting three and four innings out of our bullpen every night or we’ll beat those guys up too much.”