Kansas City, Mo. Anthony Swarzak could be going back to Minnesota’s bullpen after picking up his first victory in nearly two years.
Swarzak pitched six effecting innings, Michael Cuddyer drove in two runs and the Twins beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-2, on Thursday night.
The Twins snapped a four-game losing streak and won for the third time in 13 games.
Swarzak (1-2), who was making his third start after beginning the season in the minors and initially working in relief when he was recalled May 16, limited the Royals to seven hits and two runs. He last won on July 26, 2009.
Despite that success, Francisco Liriano will likely come off the disabled list and start Tuesday. When he does return, manager Ron Gardenhire said Swarzak would go back to the bullpen.
“I just want to pitch,” Swarzak said. “Pitching is great. After spending all of last year in Triple-A that humbled me a little bit. I just want the ball. I don’t care when it is or where it is. I’ve just got to get outs. I don’t expect Liriano to get moved to the bullpen at all. He’s a phenomenal pitcher. He’s fun to watch.”
After taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his previous start against the Los Angeles Angels, Swarzak gave up a run on two hits and a walk in the first against the Royals.
“Swarzak hung in there.” Gardenhire said. “He wasn’t perfect by any means, but he battled through a lot. He was up in the zone an awful lot, but made pitches when he had to and got us deep into the game.”
Swarzak threw 99 pitches against the Royals after 105 pitches against the Angels.
“I felt like I bounced back pretty well,” Swarzak said. “I wasn’t expecting to, but I did. I expected to be a little sore after not throwing too many pitches coming out of the bullpen and then throwing 100-plus pitches out of nowhere. I expected to be a little sore. I was for a couple of days.”
Minnesota sent 10 men to the plate in a six-run third, scoring four unearned runs after Mike Aviles made a throwing error. Denard Span, Matt Tolbert and Rene Rivera had RBI singles and Cuddyer hit a run-scoring double. Justin Morneau scored on Aviles’ error. Rivera scored on a wild pitch for the other run.
“Our offense had one big inning, which was huge, a lot of big hits,” Gardenhire said. “We overcame a baserunning mistake which we haven’t been doing. We overcame that and got a lot of big two-out hits.”
Royals starter Sean O’Sullivan was pulled after 22⁄3 innings, retiring only eight of the 19 batters he faced. He gave up seven runs — three earned — on eight hits, two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch.
“Sully battled his command,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He threw some quality pitches in spurts, some fastballs that he was throwing downhill and then he threw some fastballs that were flat. We could have helped him out there, too (on defense). For the most part they just found some holes.”
In his past four starts, O’Sullivan is 0-3 with a 13.25 ERA, allowing 51 base runners — 39 hits, 10 walks and two hit batters — and 30 runs, 26 earned, in 172⁄3 innings. O’Sullivan (2-5) was replaced by rookie right-hander Nate Adcock in the third.
Cuddyer also drove in a run in the first on a groundout. Span and Tolbert each had two hits and a RBI to pace the Twins’ 10-hit attack.
Jeff Francoeur went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a triple and drove in both Kansas City runs.