Minnesota’s Anthony Swarzak hadn’t made a start since late May, but with the Twins running out of options, the right-hander got the call to start Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Tuesday’s start originally belonged to right-hander Samuel Deduno, but Deduno was skipped in his final start of the 2012 season due to eye inflammation. Swarzak had made four starts early in the season, but otherwise was used out of the bullpen (39 relief appearances).
After giving up four runs in five innings, Swarzak was hit with the loss as the Twins fell 4-3 to the Blue Jays in the penultimate game of 2012. The four runs allowed by Swarzak came on five Toronto hits. He also walked three batters while striking out two.
Swarzak retired the first six Toronto batters he faced Tuesday, but gave up a leadoff hit to Adeiny Hechavarria in the third inning. Hechavarria pulled the first pitch from Swarzak down the left field line for a double to the corner. He then advanced to third base on a groundout by Moises Sierra and later scored on a base hit by Rajai Davis.
Swarzak escaped the third with just one run allowed, but he gave up a pair of two-out runs in the third inning as Minnesota fell behind 3-0. After getting Adam Lind to ground into a double play, Swarzak gave up a first-pitch singe to J.P. Arencibia. One batter later, Kelly Johnson made Swarzak pay by homering to right-center field.
Already trailing 3-0, Swarzak gave up another run in the fifth on a two-out single by Yunel Escobar that scored Anthony Gose from third. Three of the four runs Swarzak allowed came with two outs in the inning.
The five innings he worked Tuesday was the second-longest start of the season for Swarzak. His season high was seven innings back on April 13 against Texas. He also pitched five innings in his first appearance of the season on April 8 versus Baltimore.
Swarzak had been stretched out a bit in his last two relief appearances, as he pitched 3-2/3 innings on Sept. 22 against Detroit and 3-1/3 innings on Sept. 26 against the Yankees. On Tuesday, he needed 69 pitches to get through five innings.
“Swarzy was alright,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I think he got a little bit tired. We talked about 75 or 80 pitches for him. It’s been a while. Once he got up there about 60 or so, it looked like he got a little bit tired. But he made pitches to give us an opportunity.”
Batting title slips away from Mauer: Entering the final week of the season, Twins catcher Joe Mauer was in contention to win his fourth career batting title. Mauer’s biggest competition was Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, who has been chasing baseball’s Triple Crown. Angels rookie Mike Trout has also been in the top three among batting leaders.
But after going 0-for-3 with a walk Tuesday against Toronto, Mauer’s averaged dropped to .320 on the season. Meanwhile, Cabrera went 2-for-3 to raise his average to .331 before he was pulled from Detroit’s game against the Kansas City Royals.
Tuesday marked Mauer’s 146th game of the 2012 season, which matches his career high for games played set back in 2008. Mauer told MLB.com that he will be in Wednesday’s lineup for the final game of the season, meaning he will set a new career high with 147 games — one season after playing just 82 games due to numerous injuries.