'Weapons' in 'pen proving as effective as ever

'Whatever they need, whenever, we're ready,' Caminero says

'Weapons' in 'pen proving as effective as ever

CHICAGO -- The people in uniform can't be as effusive about the good times as those on the outside taking in the marvel. So after eight straight wins, and 21 out of 26, the music in the clubhouse may be a little louder, but the players take it in stride and the manager continues to talk in even tones.

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Clint Hurdle may still say them in the same measured way, but the words were expanding following Thursday night's 3-2 win over the White Sox.

"Our pitching staff, starters through relievers, continues to execute so well," Hurdle said. "We got some multiple weapons out in the bullpen."

No kidding. Tony Watson, the Bucs' uncanny left-handed setup guy, was off limits Thursday night for a break from his heavy workload. So all Hurdle could do to protect a one-run lead in the eighth was call on a guy throwing near 100 mph.

Arquimedes Caminero answered the call, and the need, retiring all three men he faced on a total of eight pitches.

"I don't care what inning they need me. I just want to help the team win," Caminero said after having set up Mark Melancon's 21st consecutive save conversion. "If I keep doing the job, they'll keep giving me the ball."

Especially since now they know he will throw that ball to a good place. The former Marlins prospect who nearly burned his bridge to the Majors with runaway control has a 33-to-11 strikeouts-to-walks ratio in 30 1/3 innings with the Bucs.

"He continues to be on a very good roll," Hurdle said. "He's hard to hit. The opponents average [.160] speaks to that. He throws strikes and makes people swing the bat. And he's got the split and slider to keep people off the fastball. This was a very good inning for him."

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It led to an equally good inning for Melancon, who also retired all three men he faced, signing off for a bullpen that has been as oppressive as the rotation, without as much celebrity.

"Everybody has been going very good, and everyone is happy with how things have been going," Caminero said. "We know we all get to play different roles, and whatever they need, whenever, we're ready."

"[Antonio] Bastardo has also pitched late innings [for the Phillies, his previous club] and is moving into a good position to help us," Hurdle said of the lefty who picked up wins in both extra-inning victories over Philadelphia last weekend. "[Jared] Hughes is a guy we still count on. All those guys are pulling on the same end of the rope.

"They know there'll be nights they get different assignments, and they're good with it."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.