MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Twins will rely on largely the same roster for the stretch run as the one that originally propelled them into first place, with the exception of a couple of potentially valuable additions to the bullpen.
Four days after acquiring Sergio Romo from Miami, the Twins got another veteran right-handed reliever in Sam Dyson in a deadline-beating deal Wednesday with San Francisco. Romo and Dyson will assume critical late-inning bridge roles to closer Taylor Rogers for a team that has led the AL Central since late April but has seen a once-cushy lead over three-time defending division champion Cleveland shrink significantly over the last month.
''Having real quality options helps, and it also helps push some other guys in some very important spots, and it allows you to fill up those innings in a better way,'' manager Rocco Baldelli said before the Twins played the Marlins.
With a 4.33 bullpen ERA that ranked 13th in the major leagues entering Wednesday, the Twins addressed their biggest need, even if the lack of significant action left some of the fan base frustrated that the Twins didn't make as many upgrades as the competition. The Indians traded starting pitcher Trevor Bauer from a position of strength for two power-hitting outfielders in a three-team swap, and Houston made the biggest splash of all by landing starting pitcher Zack Greinke from Arizona on a busy afternoon around the major leagues.
The Indians cut down a deficit that was as large as 11+ games at one point to just one game over the weekend, before the Twins bumped it back up to three games entering Wednesday. If they can hold on to win the division for the first time in nine years, they'd still probably have to face the Astros or the daunting New York Yankees, or perhaps both, to reach the franchise's first World Series since 1991.
For now, the Twins, whose 206 home runs are the most in the majors and whose starting pitching ERA of 3.84 ranked fifth entering Wednesday, will focus on becoming harder to hit in those critical seventh and eighth innings. The Twins have dumped four relievers - Adalberto Mejia, Matt Magill, Mike Morin and Blake Parker - over the last month, and one of their primary setup men, Trevor May, has struggled of late. Ryne Harper and Tyler Duffey have been two other heavily used options.
Dyson didn't come cheap. The Twins sent three minor leaguers to the Giants: 25-year-old Triple-A outfielder Jaylin Davis, 19-year-old rookie league right-hander Prelander Berroa and 20-year-old Class A right-hander Kai-Wei Teng.
The 31-year-old Dyson, though, has a 2.47 ERA in 49 appearances with 47 strikeouts and just seven walks in 51 innings. His opponent batting average is .213. The fourth-round draft pick in 2010 by Toronto will join his fifth major league team in Minnesota. Dyson will have one more club-controllable year before he can become a free agent.
''This is a very nice acquisition for us. He's a hard-throwing guy, a guy with very good command. His fastball is a weapon in itself. I don't know if he calls it a sinker or a two-seamer, but I think he gets great action on that pitch,'' Baldelli said. ''This is a guy that's done it. He's had a lot of success. He's a guy we're going to turn to in later-innings situations, and I'm excited to be able to call his name.''