MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell threw his newest reliever directly into the race for the National League Central. Anthony Swarzak didn't want it any other way.Swarzak survived a harrowing Brewers debut in Friday's 2-1 win over the Cubs, grinding through an eighth inning that included a near-home run, a
MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell threw his newest reliever directly into the race for the National League Central. Anthony Swarzak didn't want it any other way.
Swarzak survived a harrowing Brewers debut in Friday's 2-1 win over the Cubs, grinding through an eighth inning that included a near-home run, a no-doubt home run and a defensive gem. By holding the lead through it all, Swarzak helped lift the Brewers to within a half-game of the first-place Cubs.
"I think that's the best way to do it, throw the guy in the fire and see what happens," said Swarzak, who was in uniform with the Brewers beginning Thursday following a trade from the White Sox but didn't pitch in a blowout loss at Washington.
On Friday, a lot happened.
Inheriting a 2-0 lead, Swarzak hung his head when Addison Russell led off the eighth with a deep drive to right field. Swarzak had seen enough baseballs at Miller Park to know that's a danger zone for a fly ball, but Domingo Santana caught it at the warning track.
Javier Baez followed by hitting a fly ball where it couldn't be caught. Baez's solo homer off a Swarzak slider smashed into the windows of the club high above left field, cutting Milwaukee's lead in half with one swing.
Did Russell's near-homer impact the following pitch?
"No, not at all," Swarzak said. "I think I was a little pumped up tonight. Throwing in front of a new team, a new crowd and big situation, you kind of want to prove yourself all over again, and I fell into that trap just kind of trying to throw too hard. That one didn't move and he got all of it."
The next batter was a pinch-hitter, Benjamin Zobrist, who popped a pitch to the end of the Cubs' dugout, where Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw reached over the railing and made a terrific catch.
It was an out that reset the inning for Swarzak. But just barely.
"I didn't realize I had caught it, to be honest with you," said Shaw, who went 0-for-4 but turned in three defensive gems. "Looking on the replay, that's as far as I could reach. I kind of just felt something in there. If I'm not getting any hits, they're not getting any hits."
Swarzak walked Jonathan Jay but preserved the 2-1 lead by retiring Kristopher Bryant on a slow roller to first base. With that, his eventful Brewers debut was in the books.
"I had a clean inning, and I made my own mess out there," Swarzak said. "It wasn't anyone's fault but my own. I have to execute better. To walk the guy and give up a home run in the same inning, in a two-run game in the eighth inning with the situation is what it is, with the division and stuff, I've got to do a better job with that.
"With all that being said, we battled and we won the game. That's all that matters. I'm not hanging my head whatsoever. It was a good game. Team win. We move on and go get them [Saturday]."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.