Twins' bullpen comes undone vs. White Sox

BY foxsports • July 24, 2012

For so long this season, Minnesota's bullpen has been one of the team's strong points. Despite being forced to throw the third-most innings in all of baseball, the Twins' relievers continued to get the job done.

Not Tuesday night in Chicago, however. Four different relievers each gave up at least two runs out of the bullpen to spoil a quality start by Cole De Vries as Minnesota was routed, 11-4, by the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.

De Vries, who made his major league debut earlier this season, exited Tuesday's game after six innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) with four strikeouts and no walks. When he walked off the mound after the sixth inning, his offense had spotted him four runs as he appeared be in line for his third career win.

Instead, the bullpen imploded. It began in the bottom of the seventh inning as left-hander Tyler Robertson was called upon to relieve De Vries. He retired the first batter he faced, but then walked Kevin Youkilis before Adam Dunn stepped up to the plate.

Despite his success in a limited sample size against left-handers (10 strikeouts and an opponent batting average of .227), Robertson served up a two-run homer to Dunn, his 30th of the season. That tied the game and ensured that De Vries wouldn't pick up the victory. Dunn's blast to right field ended Robertson's night after just 1/3 of an inning.

Right-hander Casey Fien relieved Robertson in the seventh. Since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester, Fien had yet to allow a run in five appearances (8 1/3 innings). That streak ended Tuesday, as he gave up three hits and walked two — including one intentional — to allow another pair of runs. The big hit came off the bat of Dayan Viciedo, whose single to left scored Eduardo Escobar and Alex Rios, giving Chicago a 6-4 lead. As it turned out, Fien was hit with the loss, the second of his career.

But the rest of Minnesota's bullpen couldn't stop the bleeding. Right-hander Jeff Gray gave up just one hit, but he was charged with three runs as he also walked two batters in the top of the eighth inning. Gray issued a two-run double to Dunn and left the eighth without recording an out. It was the second time in his last four outings that Gray allowed multiple runs in less than an inning.

Gray was replaced by right-hander Anthony Swarzak, who didn't fare much better. Swarzak gave up the third and final White Sox home run when Alexei Ramirez hit a two-run shot with one out in the eighth.

Minnesota's bullpen has been taxed and overworked all season, and that was the case Monday as starter Francisco Liriano lasted just 2 2/3 innings. But the Twins used just two relievers — Brian Duensing (4 IP) and Alex Burnett (1 1/3 IP) to go the distance.

Tuesday was a different story, as De Vries pitched through six innings. In a span of two innings, four different relievers surrendered a total of nine runs on seven hits and four walks. As a result, Minnesota is now 40-57 on the season, 12 games out of first place as they wrap up the series Wednesday in Chicago.

Robby Incmikoski contributed to this report.

Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.

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