Patrick Reusse: As big-league debuts go, it was equal to Jeff Holly's

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 23, 2009 - 11:27 PM

But the Twins believe that Anthony Swarzak will have a better career than the last pitcher in team history to pitch seven shutout innings in his first major league game.

Anthony Swarzak got a giant shaving cream pie in the face for his efforts Saturday, when he pitched seven shutout innings in his major league debut.

Photo: Jim Mone, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

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The Southport Raw Bar in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., does not have the baseball package. Owner Buddy Sherman might have to give into the lobbying of his staff and make that upgrade in television service before Thursday afternoon.

On Saturday night, Leslie Selimus was missing her shift as a waitress at the Southport in order to be in Minnesota to watch her son, Anthony Swarzak, make his major league debut.

"Leslie was so excited when she found out her son would be pitching," Sherman said. "We're like a family, so it wasn't a problem getting people to cover for her. And then all of tonight, we were getting calls from our staff -- people not working -- telling us, 'Leslie's son is pitching great.' "

Swarzak, a put-together 6-4 righthander, went seven scoreless innings for the Twins and started his big-league career with a 6-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Leslie and her husband, Steve Selimus, were sitting 25 rows behind home plate in Section 125. At game's end, they could be seen pointing toward the second deck.

Was it a signal to Anthony's seven high school pals who had made the trip to Minnesota?

"No, we were pointing at the scoreboard," Leslie said. "His name was up there: 'Swarzak, 1-0.'

"Seven scoreless innings in a first game ... that's never happened before with the Twins."

Steve bellowed an "unbelievable" when his wife said that.

Actually, Jeff Holly debuted with seven scoreless innings for the Twins on May 1, 1977. But those seven were in relief, and it took a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth against Detroit's John Hiller to make him a 6-5 winner.

"Jeff Holly? I hope this kid wins more games than he did," Rick Anderson said as he was leaving the clubhouse.

Then, the pitching coach pivoted and said: "I'm certain he's going to."

Holly won two more games in the big leagues after the sparkling debut. Things worked out better with Mike Fornieles. He's the last starter in this organization to debut with as many as seven scoreless innings -- a nine-inning shutout for the Washington Senators on Sept. 2, 1952.

Fornieles won 63 games in a 12-season big-league career. You would be getting ahead of yourself to insist that Swarzak, 23, will roar past that total.

For now, it was victory No. 1 that counted for Leslie as she continued to take in the postgame sights. Suddenly, Anthony appeared in front of the dugout for a postgame interview.

Leslie was firing away with her camera when three of Swarzak's new teammates gave the young man a gigantic shaving cream pie -- a direct hit to his mug.

"They got him with a pie," Leslie and Steve said in unison, laughing robustly.

Fifteen minutes later, Swarzak was at his locker in the clubhouse with his eyes in need of a Visine wash. No matter. You couldn't get the smile off his face.

"They sounded happy in the Southport Raw Bar tonight," a reporter said to Swarzak.

The smile got wider and he said: "I'm sure they were."

There was some uncertainty for hardcore Twins followers as they watched Swarzak in the first inning. The radar reading for his fastball was 87-89 miles per hour rather than the advertised 91-93. And, he was in a hitter's count a couple of times.

The positive sign was pitching around a defensive blunder -- the failure of Denard Span, Carlos Gomez or Brendan Harris to corral Ryan Braun's high fly to shallow left-center.

That put two on with one out. How was Mom taking it? "She got a little worked up when that ball dropped," Steve said. "She was very nervous, and she wasn't alone."

Catcher Joe Mauer came to the mound. "He said, 'Good pitch; let's do it again, because that's not going to happen [fly ball dropping] again,' " Swarzak said.

As it turned out, Swarzak was more a guy with good movement on his pitches than runaway speed. He mixed a curveball and a changeup with a fastball that often seemed to arrive knee-high and heavy.

He will start again at 12:10 p.m. Thursday against Boston at the Metrodome.

Come on, Buddy Sherman, let's get the baseball package. The late lunch crowd at the Southport wants to see for itself if Leslie's son can keep his ERA at 0.00.

Patrick Reusse can be heard 5:30-9 a.m. weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP. • preusse@startribune.com

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