MINNEAPOLIS — This wasn’t characteristic for a Scott Diamond start.
As the Minnesota Twins’ best pitcher last year, Diamond was essentially immune from pitching a clunker. Sunday against Baltimore, though, he finally had one. Minnesota’s left-hander matched gave up six runs on nine hits — including three home runs — in just 5 2/3 innings of work in the Twins’ 6-0 loss at Target Field.
The six runs equaled the most Diamond has allowed in 40 career starts in the majors; the only other time he did so was last year in an 11-8 loss to the White Sox. Diamond also served up three home runs Sunday, something he had never done in his young major league career.
“I got eaten alive out there today,” Diamond said.
Diamond’s woes began with the first batter he faced as Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis singled to left to lead off the game. Markakis later moved to third on a double play groundout by Adam Jones, but would score one batter later when Chris Davis tagged Diamond for a 442-foot home run to straightaway center, the first of three homers Diamond would give up.
In the second inning, Baltimore’s lineup again hit Diamond hard as he continued to leave pitches up in the zone. The Orioles took advantage and tacked on another run in the second when Chris Snyder singled home J.J. Hardy.
“They jumped him early,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They were swinging early in the count and really never let him get into any kind of pattern, and every time he got one up they seemed to make him pay for it.”
Jones sent a 2-1 pitch from Diamond into the left field seats in the top of the third to push Baltimore’s lead to 4-0. The home runs didn’t stop there, though, as left fielder Steve Pearce hit a solo shot into the bullpen in left-center field to make it a 6-0 Orioles edge. It was the first time in Diamond’s career he gave up more than two home runs in a game.
“I tried to make an adjustment as the game went on and really just continued to struggle,” Diamond said. “I tried to battle out there but it definitely didn’t go the way I wanted it to.”
Diamond had offseason surgery on his left elbow and as a result didn’t make his first start of the year until April 13. His last outing prior to Sunday was easily his best of the young season as he pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed just three hits.
In five starts before facing Baltimore, Diamond allowed just two total home runs. He more than doubled that total Sunday. Diamond also failed to strike out a single Orioles batter. While not typically known as a strikeout pitcher, it was the first time in his career that Diamond didn’t register at least one strikeout.
“I know I’m not going to be my best every game, so it’s about making adjustments,” Diamond said. “That’s what I was trying to do every single at-bat, every single pitch and it just wasn’t clicking for me. I think this game’s more of a write-off than it is that the whole thing was not going to work.”
Diamond noted the difference in the stitching of the balls used in Sunday’s game. Major League Baseball introduced baseballs with pink laces, and Diamond said they felt different than the usual baseball.
Still, he knows that’s not an excuse for Sunday’s performance, and he pointed out the fact that Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen pitched five scoreless innings with the same baseballs.
“I threw with the regular balls in the bullpen and came out to the game and found out we were throwing with different balls,” Diamond said. “That’s still obviously an adjustment I have to make and I wasn’t able to do it.”