MINNEAPOLIS (AP) —Scott Diamond was the latest reinforcement summoned by the Minnesota Twins to stabilize their reeling rotation.
He sure earned another start.
Diamond pitched a career-best seven scoreless innings in his season debut and Ryan Doumit hit a two-run homer, giving the Minnesota Twins a much-needed jolt in a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
“If you draw a baseball game up, that’s the way you’d do it,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Diamond (1-0) struck out six, the most in any of his eight major league starts, and allowed only four hits. He’s the first Twins starter to pitch this year without allowing a run. Recalled from Triple-A Rochester this week to join a starting staff that’s last in the majors with a 6.45 ERA, the 25-year-old Canadian retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced.
Diamond got 12 groundball outs, seven to shortstop Brian Dozier, and walked only one while routinely throwing strike one and precisely locating his fastball. The Angels were shut out for the seventh time this season, four more than the Twins.
“The defense was awesome. I wouldn’t have been able to have gone seven without them,” Diamond said.
Sent down early in spring training, Diamond was told to be ready to return.
“If something happens in our rotation, you be the guy that’s throwing the best,” Gardenhire told him.
“The goal was to work back here. When I got sent down I was a little discouraged, but I wanted to work hard and get back,” Diamond said.
Dan Haren (1-3) didn’t even finish the fourth, the shortest of his seven starts this season after pitching into the seventh inning in each of his last four appearances. Even more glaring was the fact that he failed to record a single strikeout, the first time he started a game and didn’t do that in almost eight years. Only three of Haren’s 263 career starts have ended without a strikeout.
The Angels, who lost for only the third time in their last nine games, snapped a streak of 13 straight quality starts — six innings or more and three runs or less. Their starters have the lowest collective ERA in the league.
Haren gave up eight hits and five runs with two walks over 3 2-3 innings to a team that totaled only 20 hits over its previous six games. The Twins finished with 12 hits in all.
“I gave up a bunch of hits to a team that’s really struggling. That speaks to how I feel right there,” said Haren, who complained of some lower-back muscle stiffness but said he should be fine.
The Twins, who won for only the third time in 15 games, still have the worst record in baseball at 8-21. And they’re still last in the AL by far in home runs, but Doumit padded their paltry total a little with his first-inning drive into the right-field seats that followed Josh Willingham’s RBI double.
The last time the Twins scored before their opponent was eight games ago, on April 29 against Kansas City. This was their first lead in four games since beating Seattle on Friday.
“We needed a win bad. We needed something to jump-start us,” Willingham said, adding: “We’ve been playing from behind a lot and maybe putting too much pressure on ourselves to get hits and score runs. It’s a lot better to play ahead.”
Danny Valencia grounded into a bases-loaded double play that ended the third, but a sacrifice fly by Erik Komatsu and an RBI single by Dozier stretched the lead to 5-0 in the fourth.
Diamond, who went 1-5 with a 5.08 ERA in seven starts last year after being brought up, was acquired from the Atlanta Braves before last season and spent the majority of the year in the minors. But he was 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA in six starts for the Rochester Red Wings this season, begging for the pitching-depleted Twins to give him another promotion.
“You can watch video all you want, but until you get and see a guy you just don’t know what he’s going to have,” said Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick. “You need to get in the batter’s box.”
NOTES: The Twins gave CF Denard Span his first day off this season, so recent acquisition Komatsu played there and batted leadoff instead. … Haren’s last strikeout-less start was on June 10, 2004, when he lasted only 3 2-3 innings for the St. Louis Cardinals. …. Twins RH Jared Burton pitched a perfect eighth, stretching his hitless streak to 10 1-3 innings. Opponents are in a 0-for-31 skid with 11 strikeouts against him.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)