On Saturday evening, the Los Angeles Angels faced the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis. This year’s version of the Twins is unlike teams of the last decade, losers of 33 of their first 49 games.
With a batting lineup that has been stagnant at best and a pitching staff that is at or near the bottom in nearly every statistical category, the Twins are clearly headed towards a dismal season. Last night, they trotted out pitcher Anthony Swarzak, who was making only the 14th major league start of his career, second this season. In 2009, Swarzak got 12 starts for the Twins, posting a 3-7 record and 6.25 ERA. Last season, Swarzak never even cracked the major league roster, and last night, he was only starting because Francisco Liriano had been scratched due to a sore shoulder.
Swarzak held the Twins to just one hit over his eight innings of work, a sharp grounder down the third base line by Peter Bourjos that he turned into a double. That was it. One hit. All night. Against a spot starter and the worst pitching staff in the American League.
After the game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that Swarzak didn’t do anything special.
He didn’t do anything we didn’t expect,” Scioscia told Plunkett. “He had good command of his fastball, good late life to arm side. … A couple balls we hit hard. But all in all we just didn’t have good looks at him – for whatever reason.”
Aside from Bourjos’ double in the eighth inning, it’s hard to find any ball hit hard by the Angels all night long. And, if you got exactly what you expected, shouldn’t it be expected that Angels’ hitters could put together more than one hit?
The excuse from the top is getting pretty old, it’s a line that Scioscia has now used on several occasions following games in which his hitters made opposing pitchers look like Sandy Koufax.
It’s one thing to get beat by good pitchers like Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Gio Gonzalez. But when you’re baffled by pitchers whom most people have never even heard of (Guillermo Moscoco, Swarzak, Alex White), then at some point the excuses have to stop.
Angels’ starter Jered Weaver put up arguably his best performance of the season last night, giving up just two hits in nine innings of work himself, striking out seven and throwing a career-high 128 pitches, walking away with nothing but frustration. Catcher Jeff Mathis agreed.
“There’s no excuse for not pushing across one run for him. The way he was pitching, you’re up there battling for him not just yourself,” Mathis said.
Well said, Mathis. There are no excuses anymore.