Minnesota at Chicago

Scoreboard
Minnesota (32-32) «011000000250
Chi. Cubs (29-30)000000000050

Twins rookie Swarzak pitches gem, ruins Harden's return to Cubs

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

CHICAGO -- The way he dominated, Anthony Swarzak certainly pitched like a major leaguer Saturday, and he probably will be again.

For now?

Back to the minors, kid.

In an odd twist, the Minnesota Twins optioned the 23-year-old rookie to Triple-A Rochester after he scattered four hits over seven innings in a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday afternoon.

  Cubs activate Harden | Twins sit Cuddyer

Harsh crowd, that Twins management.

Swarzak (2-2) struck out six and walked one while earning his first win since beating Milwaukee last month. So why is the right-hander being sent to the minors? To make room for catcher Jose Morales, who was recalled from Rochester.

"I've got no doubts he can pitch in the big leagues and he proved that today," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But it has to be done. We need a player here. I've got too many injuries."

The Twins played short-handed on Saturday with outfielders Michael Cuddyer (right index finger) and Denard Span (dizziness) unavailable.

Swarzak, who has a 3.90 ERA in five starts, was disappointed but had an idea the move was coming.

"It's definitely disappointing but I kind of figured it would happen," he said. "I thought I could pitch at this level but now I know. I just need to go to Rochester and work on consistency."

Swarzak consistently hit the strike zone Saturday, Jason Kubel homered and the Twins hung on after the Cubs threatened in the ninth.

What looked like a relatively easy win took a tense turn when closer Joe Nathan walked Milton Bradley leading off. Derrek Lee then lined a single off third baseman Joe Crede's glove and pinch hitter Andres Blanco laid down a sacrifice bunt, putting runners on second and third. Nathan then got out of it, striking out Kosuke Fukudome and retiring Ryan Theriot on a fly to right to end the game and send the Cubs to their fourth straight loss.

"I've never seen anything like I'm seeing right now," said Alfonso Soriano, who's batting .233 after going 0 for 4. "We're a very good hitting team. I don't know what's happening now, but it's not looking good."

Minnesota got its runs in the early going against the returning Rich Harden after a 32-minute rain delay at the start. Kubel led off the second with his 11th homer and Joe Maurer singled in a run, delighting the Twins fans.

The two-time defending NL Central champions simply couldn't get anything going against Swarzak. They had no luck either against Matt Guerrier, who retired the side in the eighth before Nathan worked a tense ninth for his 15th save in 17 chances.

Harden (4-3) was a tough-luck loser after missing about three weeks with a mid-back strain. He allowed just two runs and five hits over six innings, striking out nine and walking two after being activated from the disabled list earlier in the day.

"I felt like I could have thrown a lot more pitches," said Harden, who threw 92. "I was just starting to kind of get things down starting my off-speed for strikes and getting ahead of some hitters."

Kubel turned on a 1-1 fastball, driving it to the street beyond the right-field seats in the second, and Mauer made it 2-0 when he drove in Nick Punto with a two-out single to right in the third. Twins fans chanted "MVP! MVP!" just as they did Friday, and it's hard to argue.

The reigning AL batting champion, Mauer is batting .408 after missing April with a back injury.

While Mauer got showered again with cheers, Cubs fans continued to let Bradley hear it. They booed him loudly after a flub-filled Friday in which he committed a base-running blunder, lost a ball in the sun and threw another into the right-field stands after catching what he thought was the third out in a 7-4 loss. He had a single Saturday and no noticeable gaffes, and manager Lou Piniella insisted he didn't consider sitting him.

"What for?" Piniella asked.

Notes

  • The Twins held Cuddyer out of the lineup because of an inflamed right index finger and might be without him for at least a few days. Cuddyer, who missed four games after spraining a ligament May 31, aggravated the condition Friday. He was examined by a doctor Saturday and is expected to see a specialist on Monday.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Rookie Anthony Swarzak allows only four hits over seven innings to outduel veteran Rich Harden. (AP)
Rookie Anthony Swarzak allows only four hits over seven innings to outduel veteran Rich Harden. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

A. Swarzak
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 1
K 6
Minnesota

J. Kubel
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
 

Related Video

Minnesota Twins
Brendan Harris, SS3000101 .291
Joe Mauer, C4011011 .408
Justin Morneau, 1B4010010 .336
Jason Kubel, RF4111022 .313
Joe Crede, 3B3000110 .228
Delmon Young, LF3000021 .252
Carlos Gomez, CF3010020 .219
Nick Punto, 2B3110010 .202
Anthony Swarzak, P2000021 .000
   a- Brian Buscher, PH1000000 .192
    Matt Guerrier, P0000000 .000
    Joe Nathan, P0000000 .000
Totals30252212  
a-grounded out for Swarzak in the 8th
Batting
HR - Jason Kubel (11, Harden)
RBI - Joe Mauer (40), Jason Kubel (37)
2-OUT RBI - Joe Mauer (16)
CS - Carlos Gomez (4, 2nd base by Harden/Soto)
Team LOB - 3
Minnesota Twins
Anthony Swarzak (W,2-2) 7400160 3.90
Matt Guerrier (H,11) 1000010 3.03
Joe Nathan (S,15) 1100110 1.78
Pitches-Strikes - Anthony Swarzak 100-63, Matt Guerrier 13-10, Joe Nathan 18-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Anthony Swarzak 8-7, Matt Guerrier 1-1, Joe Nathan 1-1
Batters Faced - Anthony Swarzak 26, Matt Guerrier 3, Joe Nathan 5
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF4000021 .233
Mike Fontenot, 3B3000100 .240
Milton Bradley, RF3010111 .226
Derrek Lee, 1B4020001 .273
Geovany Soto, C3000012 .209
   a- Andres Blanco, PH0000000 .219
Kosuke Fukudome, CF4000024 .272
Ryan Theriot, SS4010022 .278
Aaron Miles, 2B3010001 .205
Rich Harden, P1000000 .188
    Jose Ascanio, P0000000 .000
    Sean Marshall, P0000000 .231
   b- Micah Hoffpauir, PH1000000 .261
    Kevin Gregg, P0000000 .000
Totals3005028  
a-hit a sacrifice bunt for Soto in the 9th
b-grounded out for Marshall in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ryan Theriot (12, Swarzak)
SH - Andres Blanco (4), Rich Harden (3)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Fontenot-Miles-Lee
Chicago Cubs
Rich Harden (L,4-3) 6522291 4.53
Jose Ascanio 1000020 2.70
Sean Marshall 1000000 4.56
Kevin Gregg 1000010 4.13
WP - Rich Harden (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Rich Harden 91-61, Jose Ascanio 9-8, Sean Marshall 9-7, Kevin Gregg 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rich Harden 3-4, Jose Ascanio 1-0, Sean Marshall 3-0
Batters Faced - Rich Harden 23, Jose Ascanio 3, Sean Marshall 3, Kevin Gregg 3
Game Information
Attendance - 40899
Game Time - 2:23
Temperature - 54
Umpires - Home - Dan Bellino, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Tom Hallion, Third Base - Mike Estabrook