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Updated: May 28th, 2011 10:01pm
Twins Daily: Late rally preserves brilliant start by Anthony Swarzak

Twins Daily: Late rally preserves brilliant start by Anthony Swarzak

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS - Fill-in starter Anthony Swarzak's one-hit gem was kept intact after Danny Valencia blasted a single with the bases-loaded in the 10th inning, sending the Twins to a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. Jared Weaver was equally impressive for the Angels, but his bullpen couldn't hold. The win snapped the Twins' recent 1-6 skid.

The skinny

Friday's bullpen collapse left the Twins desperate for any sort of spark.

Swarzak - a last minute replacement for injured starter Francisco Liriano - did just that. In his 13th career start and second of the season,  Swarzak carried a no-hitter all the way to the eighth inning before Peter Bourjos broke it up with a one out double. That would be his only hit allowed as he exited after the eighth, striking out four and allowing only three total base-runners - two of which came from walks.

In a refreshing twist, the Twins' relief staff held strong. Matt Capps and Alex Burnett combined for two innings of no-hit, scoreless baseball.

For as good as Swarzak was, Weaver nearly matched him pitch-for-pitch.  He kept the Twins' batters off-balance and out-of-sync, recording two hits and seven strikeouts in nine innings of work. It wasn't until he was out of the game that the Twins awoke for a four-hit, and ultimately game-winning, 10th inning. 

"(Swarzak) deserves all the credit in the world for this win, because he really set the tone and pace of this game for us," Valencia said.

Turning point

After Jason Kubel was called out on strikes to lead off the 10th, Justin Morneau bounced a single to center off reliever Hisanori Takahashi. The Angels opted for their bullpen, sending in Kevin Jepsen.

With Jason Repko in as a pinch-runner for Morneau, Michael Cuddyer jumped on 0-1 cutter for another single. Jepsen came right back at the next batter, Delmon Young, with another cutter. The result was the same as Young loaded the bases with line drive into center.

The Angels stayed with Jepsen and tried to calm him down with a visit to the mound, but it was to no avail.

Nursing a 1-1 count, Jepsen went to his four-seam fastball. Valencia read it perfectly and sent the ball rocketing over Torii Hunter's head into the right field wall. Repko sauntered home, setting off the ensuing celebration.

"When we got that big hit from Mournie right off the bat I knew it was going to be an interesting inning," Valencia said. "Cuddy got a big hit, Delmon got a big hit and that put me in a position to win the game. It was huge."

Numbers game

4: Hits was the fewest Swarzak had allowed in any of his 13 previous MLB starts.

55: Career ejections for Ron Gardenhire. He was tossed in the sixth inning for arguing with umpire Andy Fletcher after Denard Span was picked off in a close play at second.

11: Hits for Young since coming off the disabled list on May 13 (11-for-53). To his credit, Young went 2-5 Saturday, with his single in the first inning ending a 0-for-13 slump.

6: Wins for the Twins at Target Field in 2011.

4-4: Twins' record in extra inning games this season.

Overheard

"I started thinking about it after the fifth. I started thinking about it more after the seventh. It was one of those things I was just trying to stay ahead. I tip my hat to (Bourjos). He jumped over that first-pitch slider and hit it pretty hard down the line."

-- Swarzak, when asked at what point he realized he was flirting with a no-hitter.

"The kid just threw unbelievable... We were concerned how many pitches he was going to go, but I can promise you, if he had a no-hitter he wasn't coming out."

-- Gardenhire, talking about Swarzak's command. The Twins had talked prior to the game of holding their starter to a pitch count, but later abandoned the idea.

"Not very good. It wasn't a lot of fun. Getting out there wasn't fun. Running out there wasn't fun. And walking back wasn't fun. But I didn't know I was going to go out there."

-- Gardenhire, in reference to coming out of the dugout to argue with Fletcher in the sixth on a bum knee. He has been experiencing nagging pain in the knee over the last few days.

Health watch

RHP Joe Nathan (right elbow tenderness) was placed on the DL prior to Saturday's game. The Twins are being cautious to avoid a major setback in Nathan's comeback from elbow surgery in 2010. A MRI was scheduled for later in the day. "We're pretty confident nothing serious is going on, but we're going to check to make sure we're not missing anything," head trainer Rick McWane said.

LHP Jose Mijares (left elbow tenderness) threw two innings in an extended spring game on Saturday, making up for his missed appearance in Friday's Ft. Myers Miracle game, which was delayed because of rain. Mirajes likely will come off the DL on Monday. "He's ready," Gardenhire said. "The ball is coming out of his hand great. He feels nothing. There's a good chance he'll join us in Detroit."

DH Jim Thome (sore left shoulder) received a cortisone shot after the game in an attempt to decrease the inflammation in his shoulder. Thome, who pinch-hit for Rene Rivera in the ninth inning, is feeling the most pain in his back-swing. Although the injury doesn't appear to be serious, Thome noted this is the first time he has had pain in this part of his shoulder. "I've have had it (pain) for awhile. It's just gotten worse," Thome said. "I don't want it to get to a point that it really gets bad and I wasn't on top."

2B/SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka (fractured fibula) logged five at-bats and played shortstop during an extended spring training game on Saturday. With Sunday an off-day in Ft. Myers, the team is aiming to have him play five more innings on Monday, this time at second base. Nishioka was moved to the 60-day DL after the game.

C Joe Mauer (weakness/soreness) served as DH for four at-bats in game down in Florida Saturday. Mauer is off Sunday, but will repeat the same routine on Monday.

LHP Glen Perkins (strained right oblique) has been making progress since going on the DL a week ago. He has been cleared to play catch on Sunday.

On deck

It has been a tumultuous season for right-hander Carl Pavano (2-4, 5.28), but he has had a slight return to his 2010 form as of late. He has notched a 2.35 ERA in his last three starts, surrendering more than one run once in that span. Walks, however, are still an issue with him. He has 16 already this season - nearly half of his total from last year.

Countering Pavano in Sunday's series finale (1:10 p.m. 1500 ESPN) is Angels ace right-hander Dan Haren. With an ERA of 2.13 and an average of six strikeouts per game, Haren has been one of the best starters in the majors this season. He did run into trouble, however, in his last appearance On Tuesday against Oakland, surrendering a season-high five runs.

Coming up

Monday: at Detroit, 12:05 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (4-4, 3.20) vs. RHP Brad Penny (4-4, 4.45)
Tuesday: at Detroit, 6:05 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (2-5, 4.83) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (6-2, 3.86)
Wednesday: at Detroit, 6:05 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (2-3, 3.65) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (4-3, 3.93)

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
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