BALTIMORE — Anthony Swarzak has had his hot streaks, but the blazing trail the veteran right-handed reliever rode into the White Sox’ game against the Orioles on Saturday was in a league of its own.
“Never like this at the big-league level, for this long,” Swarzak said.
How hot was it?
Swarzak, who didn’t pitch in the game, hasn’t allowed a run in 12 relief appearances covering 14‰ innings. He has retired the last 15 batters he has faced and 33 of 34. The scoreless-innings streak is the longest active one in baseball.
“I know it might sound bad to say this, but I kind of knew I always had it in me,” Swarzak said. “This kind of stuff, this kind of stretch. I had flashes of 95-96 [mph velocity], I just never knew how to go about tapping it, getting into this kind of groove. But I never doubted myself.”
These are the kind of streaks where superstitious doings are adhered to, but Swarzak said the only superstition he’s sticking to is “not to be superstitious.’’
“I don’t want to overthink it or put too much stock in it,” he said. “It’s -relatively early. I’m not the only guy with a zero [ERA] in the league. Hopefully I can ride it out and after 30 or 40 appearances we’ll see where I’m at.”
The Sox signed Swarzak to a minor-league contract in the offseason and invited him to spring training, where he made an impression his first day. He came to camp with a 17-26 career record and a 4.52 ERA with the Twins, Indians and Yankees.
“When he threw, he made you turn your head,” bullpen coach Curt Hasler said. “You said, ‘Wow, this guy has good stuff. Maybe we need to know more about this guy.’ ”
At 31, Swarzak has tapped into a fountain of youth, throwing his four-seam fastball at 95 mph and slider at 87, a couple of mph above career norms, according to Brooks Baseball.
And his command has been remarkable, with 17 strikeouts and one walk.
“His slider is outstanding, and he has refined that,” Hasler said. “And it has more depth. He has more depth in the zone, and he’s got it out of the zone when he wants it.”
Melky leads it off
Manager Rick Renteria shuffled the lineup, with Melky Cabrera leading off, Leury Garcia batting second and Tim Anderson dropped to seventh.
“[Cabrera] gives us really good at-bats,” Renteria said. “It’s just the leadoff part of the game [that] he’s going to be there, so once the lineup starts rolling around and the game continues, theoretically, he’s just going to lead off one time.”
It was the second time Cabrera led off this season and the 128th time in his career.
This and that
The start of the game was delayed by 48 minutes because of rain.
• Jose Quintana, who is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 17 strikeouts in his last two starts, will start the Sox’ final game of the 10-game trip Sunday.
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Orioles hold on to defeat White Sox