Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.
Anthony Swarzak is making the Twins feel better about their starting pitching depth.
With Scott Baker lost to a season-ending elbow injury, the Twins know they might need all the help they can get. Liam Hendriks, who's back from his bout with food poisoning, will start Sunday’s game against the Rangers, and if that goes well, look for Hendriks to remain the rotation with Swarzak moving back to the bullpen.
But if Hendriks falters badly, or if someone else gets injured, Swarzak looks ready to shoulder the load. He’s 0-2 but has a 3.75 ERA. After holding the Orioles to one run over five innings last Sunday, the righthander gave up four runs on nine hits over seven innings in Friday’s 4-1 loss to Texas.
“I thought Swarzy threw the ball pretty darn good,” Manager Ron Gardenhire said. “These guys are veteran hitters. I think they jumped on him at one point five pitches in a row. We had to go out and say, 'Guys, you’ve gotta mix it up.' After that he settled in for a few innings.”
Swarzak was kicking himself for reaching out to deflect a potential double play ball from Josh Hamilton in the Rangers’ three-run fourth inning.
“I take all responsibility on that one,” he said. “If I pull my glove back, I watch an easy double play get turned, it changes the whole game.”
Swarzak is accountable, which is something Gardenhire and his coaches love.
Asked if he felt good about how he pitched in the innings outside of that three-run fourth, Swarzak said, “Other than the home run [by Ian Kinsler in the seventh] and stuff like that -- I mean, yeah, they hit some balls hard. Denard Span had a good night out in center field tracking a few down for me.
“I made some pitches when I needed to, but the bottom line is I gave up four earned [runs], and we got the loss, more importantly. Hopefully I can figure out what I need to do to stop them from scoring, so we can get some more wins in here.”
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