Third-year righty Anthony Swarzak gets another crack at a first victory of 2012 tonight when the Minnesota Twins host the Detroit Tigers in the first of three games at Target Field.
Swarzak, who started 23 times while going 7-14 in 39 appearances in 2010-11, opened this year with losses in three straight starts while allowing 21 hits and 11 runs across 14 2/3 innings against Baltimore, Texas and New York.
He's since made nine consecutive appearances out of the bullpen and has been generally effective - giving up zero runs six times and one run once - while paring his earned run average from 6.75 to 4.73.
Swarzak gave up two runs on two hits in 2 1/3 innings in his most recent outing, which consisted of mop-up duty in the Twins' 16-4 interleague loss at Milwaukee on May 20. Two days earlier, he retired five straight batters to record a hold in Minnesota's 11-3 defeat of the Brewers.
The Tigers go with 22-year-old rookie Drew Smyly, who makes his ninth career start and first against the Twins.
A second-round pick by Detroit in 2010, the Arkansas native made 22 combined starts at Single-A and Double-A last season before pitching one at Triple-A Toledo to begin this season.
He made his major-league debut with four innings of one-run ball in Detroit's 7-2 defeat of Tampa Bay on April 12 and recorded his initial win 16 days later at Yankee Stadium after holding New York to a run on two hits in six innings.
Four subsequent starts have yielded three no-decisions and a loss, in which Smyly has allowed 21 hits and 11 runs across 21 2/3 innings.
Detroit is 4-4 in games he's pitched.
On Thursday in Chicago, Alejandro De Aza hit his first grand slam as part of a three-homer sixth inning and the White Sox beat Minnesota, 11-8, in the finale of a three-game set.
Justin Morneau hit a two-run and solo home run while Joe Mauer added a solo homer for the Twins, who have lost three of four.
Cole De Vries (0-1) lost his MLB debut after giving up six runs - three earned - on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts over five-plus innings.
"I was happy that I went out there and competed pretty well. Obviously I made some mistakes and those are the ones they capitalized on," he said.
In Cleveland, Justin Masterson outdueled Justin Verlander and the Indians defeated the Tigers, 2-1, to complete a three-game sweep.
Verlander (5-2), who took a no-hitter in to the ninth inning in his last outing, allowed Shin-Soo Choo to lead off the series finale with a home run. In all, he went eight innings, struck out seven and walked just one batter, but also surrendered Jose Lopez's RBI single in the fourth.
"I felt like maybe if I was able to go out there and just dominate an inning and get our guys back out there quick maybe something would happen," Verlander said.
Minnesota swept a two-game set from the Tigers earlier in the year after Detroit went 14-4 a season ago against the Twins.