What a season it has been for right-hander Jared Burton. Limited by injuries and illness to eight major-league innings in 2010-11, he has become of the Minnesota Twins' most trusted relievers this season and on Sunday earned his first major league save.
Already 1-0 with a 3.10 earned-run average in 30 appearances, he closed out a 4-3, come-from-behind victory at Great American Ballpark.
"That was my first time out there in the ninth trying get the last out and it was pretty intense," he said. "But never in doubt, right? I had it the whole time."
Actually it was fairly tense. Burton walked leadoff hitter Todd Frazier on four pitches and may have gotten a break when Reds manager Dusty Baker had pinch hitter Willie Harris bunt Frazier to second. That brought up Scott Rolen, the veteran infielder who had worn out the Twins in the first two games of the series, going 5-for-7 with a homer and three RBI.
Burton pitched around him, ultimately putting him on first with a walk.
"I had to be smart to Rolen there," he said. "I don't like to walk too many people, but he's a professional hitter; I just wanted to throw a put-away pitch there and move on to the next guy, and it ended up working out."
Leadoff hitter Chris Heisey followed with a fly to shallow right, and Wilson Valdez grounded to third baseman Jamey Carroll for the final out, a force at second.
With right-handed closer Matt Capps apparently headed for the disabled list, manager Ron Gardenhire will use Burton and left-hander Glen Perkins as a closing duo of sorts. Perkins has closed the Twins' two other victories since Capps was sidelined by a shoulder injury on June 14.
"We have a lot of confidence in Burton or Perk in these situations," Gardenhire said. "And as we said, right-left (matchups are) sometimes going to dictate it, and other times we're just going to go with our gut, or my gut, instinct on who closes."