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Angels' bats are silenced in 1-0, 10-inning loss to Twins

Minnesota's Anthony Swarzak comes within five outs of a no-hitter before leaving after eight innings. Peter Bourjos has the Angels' only hit.

May 28, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Minnesota players celebrate after pinch runner Jason Repko scored the winning run in the 10th inning for a 1-0 victory over the Angels at Target Field on Saturday.
Minnesota players celebrate after pinch runner Jason Repko scored the… (Marlin Levison / Minneapolis…)

Reporting from Minneapolis — For the first month of the season, the Angels' Jered Weaver was the best pitcher in the major leagues.

On Saturday, wasn't even the best pitcher at Target Field, which is really saying something when you consider Weaver gave up only two cheap singles and two walks in nine scoreless innings.

Minnesota's Anthony Swarzak was even better, though, coming within five outs of a no-hitter in a game the Twins won, 1-0, in 10 innings and in which the Angels managed only one hit.

Danny Valencia's one-out, bases-loaded single over right fielder Torii Hunter's head decided the contest, earning Valencia a celebratory whipped-cream pie in the face. But that was largely a footnote to a game marked by great pitching.

"It's was an old-fashioned duel, I guess," Weaver said.

"About as good as it gets," said his catcher, Jeff Mathis.

It certainly was for Swarzak, who was in the minor leagues two weeks ago and wasn't expected to pitch until scheduled starter Francisco Liriano came up with a bum shoulder Friday.

But he kept the Angels off-balance all game, mixing speeds and location while throwing his slider for strikes. Not that keeping the Angels off-balance is all that difficult, since they've scored only seven runs in their last 49 innings on the road, and no more than one run in four of their last five road games.

Swarzak took it to another level, though, giving up one-out walks in the second and third innings, then retiring 15 batters in a row before Peter Bourjos grounded a double just inside third base with one out in the eighth inning.

"That's the closest I've come," Swarzak, who was starting only his second game since August 2009, said of a no-hitter. "I can't tell you anything remotely close to tonight. It's one of those things where I obviously wish it would've happened, but it didn't, so I'll come in tomorrow and be ready to work."

Weaver also considered the game both a disappointment and a sign of progress. After a 6-0 record and a 0.99 earned-run average in the first four weeks of the season, Weaver is winless since. But Saturday was arguably his best effort of the season, one in which he gave up two walks and two ground-ball singles while facing only two batters over the minimum through nine innings.

That's the fewest hits Weaver has given up in a start of eight innings or more.

"Obviously, I wasn't throwing the ball as well as I would like to. It wasn't like I was throwing the ball terrible, but there's some things that I wasn't doing. And I kind of felt like I got back to it today," said Weaver, who threw a career-high 128 pitches and struck out seven batters.

"So it was a step in the right direction."

Ironically, as good as both starters were, neither figured in the decision. After Swarzak left after eight innings in which he struck out four, the Twins got two perfect innings from their bullpen.

The Angels got only one out from theirs.

Hisanori Takahashi (1-1) struck out the first batter he faced, then gave up a line-drive single to Justin Morneau. Former Dodger Jason Repko went in as a pinch-runner and moved to third base on singles by Michael Cuddyer and Delmon Young against right-hander Kevin Jepsen.

That brought Valencia to the plate and, with the Angels playing in, Valencia drove a ball well over Hunter's head.

"Any loss is frustrating," Weaver said. "But it's real frustrating going about it that way. But what are you going to do? Just keep going."

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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