Twins long reliever Anthony Swarzak will be making his first start since 2012 during Wednesday's rubber match with the Indians at Target Field after Kyle Gibson was a late scratch due to back stiffness.
Swarzak, who has a 4.34 ERA through 30 appearances, has endured a comparatively disappointing 2014 after posting a 2.91 ERA over 96 innings last season -- the most work for any reliever in the Majors. The right-hander has especially struggled against the Indians, who have tagged him for five runs on nine hits in just 1 2/3 innings this year.
Though the Twins are asking Swarzak to step outside his regular role against a rather troublesome opponent, the 28-year-old is more than ready to step in during a time of need for the club.
"I'm very excited. I'm ready. I've been waiting for an opportunity to start," Swarzak said. "This is a necessity thing for the organization. They need a starter tomorrow and I didn't pitch tonight. I'll always take that ball and that's what I'll do tomorrow."
The Indians will counter with right-hander Trevor Bauer (4-4, 3.89 ERA), whose season thus far has been defined by its remarkable consistency.
Across 13 outings, Bauer has never allowed more than four runs, and only once has he lasted fewer than 5 1/3 innings. The 23-year-old's last start -- six innings of three-run ball that featured five strikeouts to one walk -- was yet another solid one even though he was unsatisfied with his command.
"It was a struggle for me," Bauer said. "I felt out of sync a little bit. I couldn't locate my fastball up in the zone. Everything was down and the offspeed was up, which is generally not a good combination for me. But I hung in there."
Indians: Asdrubal day to day, status uncertain for Wednesday
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was removed from Monday's game against the Twins due to lower back spasms, and as a result he was not in the lineup on Tuesday night. The 28-year-old was injured while trying to field a grounder in the second inning.
The team does not consider the injury anything too serious and is hopeful that Cabrera can avoid the disabled list. Utility man Mike Aviles will fill in at shortstop in the meantime.
"He's pretty locked up," Tribe manager Terry Francona said. "So we're gonna try to let him get in the training room, let them work on him, and hope it just kinda starts to loosen up. Because once it loosens up, the hope is, he'll be just fine."
Twins: Willingham paying no mind to Trade Deadline talk
Outfielder Josh Willingham is no stranger to trade rumors, and he has once again heard his name come up in conversations this month as the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31 draws closer.
"I pay seriously zero attention to it," Willingham said. "What I do hear comes from teammates or my wife, but I really don't pay any attention to it."
Though Willingham is batting just .212 with nine homers and five doubles on the year, he has shown signs that his return to offensive form could be on the horizon, notably by hitting a go-ahead homer on Monday that keyed Minnesota's 4-3 win over the Indians. He will be a free agent at the end of the season.
• Twins first baseman Kendrys Morales has hit .310 with 12 doubles and six home runs in his career against Cleveland, and he is 8-for-24 in his last six games versus the club.
• Tribe first baseman Carlos Santana hit his eighth career home run at Target Field on Tuesday night, which is the third most among any visiting player.