As Jared Burton came off the field Saturday with his first save of the season in hand, Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson approached him.
“He said, ‘We’re going to need you in there tomorrow,’ ” Burton said with a smile after the Twins’ 8-5 victory over Baltimore. “I said, ‘We’ll see, we’ll see.’ ”
Just a guess: Burton might get Mother’s Day off. Because Saturday was a big milestone for him: It was the first time since Oct. 2-4, 2009 — before a couple of years mostly spent trying to mend his right shoulder — that the reliever had pitched three days in a row.
“Coming off shoulder surgery, they’ve stayed away from it,” Burton said, his shoulder and elbow packed tightly in ice. “I’ve worked hard to get my shoulder and my strength back to where it was.”
He did it with the help of manager Ron Gardenhire and Anderson, who have been vigilant about his workload since Burton joined the Twins last year.
“Last year, it felt great all year,” despite pitching in a career-high 64 games, Burton said. “If I did throw on a second day, I was just a little hesitant that third day. But another year removed from all that, I didn’t see any problem going tonight.”
The Twins needed him because closer Glen Perkins feels soreness around his rib cage on the left side and was unavailable for the second day in a row. So Burton stepped in and retired Manny Machado, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, the heart of Baltimore’s order, on only 11 pitches, lowering his ERA to 1.69.
“Burtie told me last night, he feels like he’s found his pitches, the ball’s coming out of his hand real good, and he told me, ‘I’ll get the save tomorrow night for you,’ ” Gardenhire said. “Fine with me.”
Nothing wrong with No. 7
Oswaldo Arcia came into Saturday batting .321 when he is the seventh hitter in the Twins lineup, a figure that led all No. 7 hitters in the majors (with a 50-plate appearance minimum). The rookie right fielder had 12 RBI in the role and with a .356 on-base percentage.
So why, Gardenhire was saying before the game, would he move Arcia up in the batting order?
“He’s doing OK right where he’s at,” Gardenhire said. “I’ve moved him up before, hit him third. Didn’t work out too well.”
Arcia went 1-for-5 in the third spot against Miami in the second game of a doubleheader April 23, and he has twice batted sixth. His other 16 starts have all been batting seventh. But on a day like Saturday, when Josh Willingham is out of the lineup because of a sore wrist, surely it must be tempting to insert Arcia in the middle of the order?
“Yeah, we’re looking at it,” Gardenhire said, later adding: “We’ve got some guys with a little bit more experience [like Trevor Plouffe and Chris Parmelee] ahead of him. ... I don’t want to put too much on his head.”
• In addition to Perkins and Willingham, Aaron Hicks mildly hyperextended his right elbow while swinging at a pitch Friday, so Wilkin Ramirez started in center field Saturday. Pedro Florimon’s sore hamstring was feeling better Saturday, but “he’s not 100 percent,” Gardenhire said, so Eduardo Escobar again replaced him at shortstop.
• Perkins was so honored by a fishing lure giveaway that included his autograph earlier this year, he started a contest on Twitter to encourage people to fish with it. “Tweet your picture of fish caught w/MY lure to @Twins #Lunker,” he tweeted. “2 people will win 2 tix to champ club” at Target Field.
• Joe Mauer extended his hitting streak to 10 games, his second double-digit streak this season and the 11th of his career.