If you had asked most Twins fans prior to tonight's game against the Los Angeles Angels, they would have been happy to get five or six non-disastrous innings out of emergency starter Anthony Swarzak, who was plugged in late Friday night due to Francisco Liriano's injury.
Instead, Swarzak put together one of the best pitching performances of the Twins' season, hurling seven no-hit innings and matching Angels' ace Jered Weaver zero for zero through eight innings of work. It took extra innings, but the Twins managed to break through on offense at the end and scratch out a 1-0 victory over the Angels in ten innings on Saturday night at Target Field.
As I've already mentioned, both starting pitchers were spectacular in this one, but neither man figured in the decision. Swarzak did not allow a hit until the top of the eighth inning, when Angels' center fielder Peter Bourjos led off with a double. That was the only hit that Swarzak would allow, as he got out of the eighth inning with no damage being done. In his eight innings, he struck out four Angels and walked two, not allowing any Los Angeles runner to advance past second base.
Weaver was also outstanding for Los Angeles, as he allowed only two hits in nine innings of work. He retired seven Twins on strikes, and walked two batters as well. The Twins only had one real opportunity against Weaver, and it came in the bottom of the sixth. Denard Span reached on an infield single with two outs, and advanced to second on Weaver's attempt to pick him off of first base. However, with a full count on Alexi Casilla at the plate, Weaver turned to second base and picked Span off there. It was a close play, and resulted in Ron Gardenhire getting tossed out of the game after an argument with the umpire.
In a complete contrast to Friday night's disaster, the Twins bullpen did not blow things up for Swarzak after he was removed from the game. Matt Capps registered a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, and after the Twins couldn't score in the bottom half, Alex Burnett set the Angels down in the top of the tenth inning.
That brought the Twins to the plate for the bottom of the ninth. After Jason Kubel struck out looking against Angels' reliever Hisanori Takahashi, Justin Morneau singled to center, and was immediately pinch-run for by Jason Repko. Angels' closer Kevin Jepsen then came in to relieve Takahashi, and gave up consecutive singles to Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young to load the bases. Danny Valencia then came up, and sent the Target Field patrons home happy with a single to right to score Repko and give the Twins a 1-0 victory.
Burnett was credited with the victory for the Twins, his first victory on the season, raising his record for the year to 1-3. Takahashi took the loss for the Angels, evening his 2011 record at 1-1.
The rubber game of the series is Sunday afternoon at Target Field, with first pitch scheduled for 1:10 PM Central time. The Angels will send right-hander Dan Haren (4-3, 2.13 ERA) to the mound, and the Twins will counter with righty Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.28 ERA).
|Final - 5.28.2011||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||R||H||E|
|Los Angeles Angels||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1|
|WP: Alex Burnett (1 - 3)
LP: Hisanori Takahashi (1 - 1)