MINNEAPOLIS — Despite beginning the year at Triple-A Rochester, Minnesota left-hander Scott Diamond has pitched the most innings of any Twins pitcher this season. He lasted 5-1/3 innings Sunday against Chicago and has now pitched 153-2/3 innings for the Twins this season, more than he’s pitched in a year at any point in his professional career.
Over his last several starts, it appears as if Diamond’s workload is catching up to him a bit. That includes Sunday’s outing, as he gave up a career-high six runs on seven hits in Minnesota’s 9-2 loss in the series finale to the White Sox.
Diamond insists he’s fine physically, however.
“I still feel like the ball’s coming out well,” Diamond said after Sunday’s loss. “I was able to work down pretty well today, even though I gave up a lot of fly balls. I’m still trying to go as deep into games as I can. As of right now, I haven’t really been able to get to that seven-inning mark, which was usually my goal. I’m going to keep going out there and battling, and that’s all I can do.”
Diamond hasn’t gone seven innings in any of his last three starts, including Sunday. He lasted just five innings against the White Sox back on Sept. 4 and went six innings on Tuesday against the Royals. He gave up four runs in each of those two games — the first was an 18-9 Twins win, the second a 9-1 loss.
On Sunday, it all unraveled in the sixth inning for Diamond. The Twins trailed 3-2 in the top of the sixth when Chicago scored six runs, three of which were charged to Diamond. Adam Dunn led off with an upper-deck home run to right field for his 39th homer of the season. Three batters later, Diamond served up another upper-deck home run as Dayan Viciedo’s two-run shot to left field made it 6-2 White Sox.
“You need to bounce the ball there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the 0-1 pitch to Viciedo, which came one batter after an Alex Rios triple. “We’ve got the infield in. You need to throw the ball down, and he just got a fastball up and over the plate. He crushed that one and kind of knocked (Diamond) out.”
Indeed, Viciedo was the last batter Diamond faced. It capped perhaps his worst outing of 2012, which came in his 24th start of the year.
Diamond did catch some tough luck along the way Sunday, though. White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham hit a ball up the middle that could have been an inning-ending double play in the third inning. Instead, the ball just grazed Diamond’s foot and bounced into right field. Tyler Flowers advanced from first to third base on the play, while Beckham reached first base safely. Both runners later came around to score.
“It’s just pure luck that it hit off my foot,” Diamond said. “But he hit it pretty well. It was a changeup down. His swing has been really locked in for the last couple weeks. It could have been a double play, but in hindsight you never know.”
In the fourth inning, Diamond had Alex Rios caught in a rundown on a pickoff play to first base, but Rios was called safe after he slid past the tag at second. He, too, ended up scoring later in the inning on a double by Viciedo.
Over his last four starts, Diamond has posted a 7.33 ERA and is 1-3 in those starts. Two of those four games were against the White Sox, who leave Minneapolis in first place in the American League Central and now face second-place Detroit on Monday, a makeup from a previously postponed game.
The White Sox are putting up plenty of runs against just about everybody. On Sunday, Diamond was no exception.
“I felt a lot more aggressive out there,” Diamond said. “I felt like I was getting back to throwing strikes. Mechanically, I definitely felt a lot better. Physically, I felt a lot better. But I think the big thing today was just sticking to one plan a little too much. They made the adjustment before I did. I think that was the cause of the sixth inning.”