Twins left-hander Scott Diamond bounced back from one of his worst outings of the year to pitch one of his best.
Amid his solid effort, Diamond found himself locked into a pitcher’s duel against one of the American League’s best pitchers, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. In the end, though, Diamond’s outing kept his team in the game and the Twins eventually went on to win 3-2 in 13 innings.
Hernandez held the Twins scoreless on just three hits through eight innings and Seattle scratched across one run in the fifth inning to hold onto a 1-0 lead heading into the ninth. Minnesota pinch hitter Trevor Plouffe drove in the tying run with a one-out single to center. It was the first run Hernandez allowed against the Twins in his previous three outings against them. Still, he got through the ninth inning with just the one run.
While Diamond couldn’t quite match Hernandez’s 11 strikeouts in nine innings, he did get through 6 2/3 innings — tied for his second-longest start of the year– while allowing one run.
Prior to Friday’s start in Seattle, Diamond was rocked for six runs (five earned) on seven hits and three walks in just 4 2/3 innings in a loss to Cleveland. His start before that was a rain-shortened outing against the Yankees. One outing earlier, Diamond again had a rough time as he allowed six runs on eight hits and a season-high four walks.
But with one impressive start Friday, Diamond resembled the pitcher he was in 2012 when he was Minnesota’s most consistent starter. The walks weren’t an issue — he walked just one — but he also didn’t strike out many (just one). What Diamond did right was pitch down in the zone; he induced 12 groundball outs Friday, compared to just three fly outs.
The only run allowed by Diamond came on a base hit up the middle by Seattle’s Nick Franklin, which scored Brendan Ryan from third base. Franklin connected on a 1-0 fastball from Diamond to plate what at that point appeared to be a big run in the midst of a pitcher’s duel.
From there, Diamond pitched a scoreless sixth inning and left the seventh inning with two outs and a runner on first. Reliever Jared Burton bailed Diamond out and limited the damage for the Twins starter to just one run over 6 2/3 innings.
When the Twins attempted to overhaul the starting rotation this past offseason, they figured Diamond would be a key piece of the puzzle. But the 26-year-old left-hander has not necessarily carried over last year’s success to this season. He was 5-9 with a 5.53 ERA entering Friday’s start. The nine losses matched his season total from 2012, when he went 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA.
Friday was an encouraging sign for Diamond, though. In a game when they needed him to be at his best against King Felix, Diamond delivered.