MLB: Swarzak stifles Indians in spot start
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Twins pitcher Anthony Swarzak has made no bones about his desire to become a full-time starting pitcher one day.
Wednesday, Swarzak looked like a guy who belongs in a rotation.
The right-hander, who has appeared in 30 games this season, made his first start of the year and looked the part of an established starter, tossing five innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Indians at Target Field.
Making a spot start in place of an injured Kyle Gibson, Swarzak showed his value to the Twins, allowing only two hits and throwing 74 pitches in five frames, improving to 2-0 on the year.
“It feels good to be able to give your team a chance to win every day,” Swarzak said. “It’s a little different coming out of the bullpen because most of the time you’re coming into the game in a situation where you need a ground ball or you need quick outs. Today I got the opportunity to compete and just throw my stuff up there and compete my way through a lineup once or twice. I missed that. That was fun.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game he hoped for 50 or 60 pitches from Swarzak, but left the door open for based on the type of innings he was throwing.
Through four innings, Swarzak sat at 61 pitches, but had allowed only the two hits and a two walks.
“They asked me how I was. I said I was doing fine, and that was it,” Swarzak said. “Everybody left me alone. I figured after the fifth I was done. I threw too many pitches in the third.”
The Indians scored their only run of the game in that third inning, getting a single and a walk in front of an RBI double by shortstop Jose Ramirez. With runners on second and third, All-Star center fielder Michael Brantley hit a hard liner up the middle that would have easily scored two more, but a diving stop by Twins shortstop Eduardo Nunez ended the inning.
“That was the play of the game, hands down,” Swarzak said. “That was why we won. Great diving play.”
“That’s taking two runs right off the board,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “We might still be playing, that was a great play.”
Twins center fielder Danny Santana and right fielder Oswaldo Arcia had multi-hit games to pace the Minnesota offense.
Santana’s one-out triple in the third inning was Minnesota’s first hit. He scored one batter later when left fielder Sam Fuld singled to center. Santana also had a one-out single in the fifth inning, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on second baseman Brian Dozier’s bloop double into right field to give Minnesota the lead for good.
Arcia had two hits, including a solo home run in the sixth inning, his sixth of the season.
Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer (4-5) took the loss despite a quality start, allowing three earned runs over six innings on six hits and two walks. He also struck out seven.
“It was a fastball and it was right where I wanted to put it,” Bauer said of his pitch to Arcia. “Good for him, he hit a good pitch. Sold out for it.”
Following the game, the Twins designated reliever Matt Guerrier for release or assignment. Guerrier, in his second stint with the organization in a career that’s spanned 11 seasons, is third on the team’s all-time list with 488 relief innings pitched.
Guerrier was 1-0 this season with a 3.86 ERA in 27 appearances, but was roughed up for four runs in the ninth inning of his final outing Tuesday in a 8-2 loss. Minnesota recalled right-hander Ryan Pressly to take Guerrier’s spot on the 25-man roster.
NOTES: The Indians recalled INF Jose Ramirez from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game. Ramirez started Wednesday at shortstop and batted second. ... To make room for Ramirez, the Indians optioned RHP T.J. House to Columbus. House was the starter in the series opener on Monday, pitching five innings and allowing three earned runs in a no-decision. ... Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera, who left the game Monday with lower back spasms, is still day-to-day but looked much improved on Wednesday. He could return to the lineup as soon as Thursday against Kansas City. ... Twins 1B Joe Mauer swung in the cage before the game, another positive step in his return from a strained oblique that has had him on the 15-day disabled list since July 2. ... Twins RHP Ricky Nolasco had the day off on Wednesday as he looks recover from an ailing right elbow that has had him on the DL since July 8. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Sunday, and if all goes well, he could return to the Twins rotation as soon as next week.