Anthony Swarzak has been begging for a start for the nearly two years since his last one. So much so, that it became a running joke in the clubhouse and a source of friendly teammate teasing.

The Twins righthander probably wasn’t expecting to have the last laugh in the form of a notice that he was starting a little more than 12 hours before Wednesday’s game.

But Swarzak stepped up to the quick turnaround, pitching the Twins to a 3-1 series-clinching victory over the Cleveland Indians before an announced 34,608 Wednesday at Target Field.

“It was a relief,” said Swarzak, who had made 78 consecutive relief appearances since his last start for the Twins, which came in the second-to-last game of the 2012 season. “I’ve been waiting to get a start, and if that’s the way I’ve got to get starts, that’s fine.”

Manager Ron Gardenhire said he wasn’t too concerned about using Swarzak on such short notice because the 28-year-old lets him know constantly how available he is.

“It’s an everyday thing,” Gardenhire said. “ ‘I’m here if you need me. I can start. Whatever you need, I’m good to go.’ ”

Swarzak began his Twins career as a starter in 2009, but over the past three years he primarily has served as a safety-net long reliever. Getting the call Wednesday after Kyle Gibson was scratched because of a stiff back, Swarzak (2-0) threw 74 pitches, including 51 strikes, in five innings, giving up a run on two hits and a walk with three strikeouts.

He was expected to make only 60 pitches in four innings, but Gardenhire was comfortable stretching Swarzak out after seeing how he performed.