If there’s been a weakness for Twins left-hander Scott Diamond this season, it’s been the later innings. Diamond has started games strong, only to fade as the games go on.
That story played itself out again Wednesday, as Diamond allowed three runs in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Marlins in Miami. The left-hander had cruised through four scoreless innings and was spotted a 3-0 lead by his offense but gave all three back in the fifth.
It started with a leadoff base hit by Placido Polanco, who singled softly to center. Two batters later, Jeff Mathis hit his first homer of the season, a two-run shot with the count full against Diamond, to cut the Twins’ lead to 3-2.
Diamond again struggled to put a batter away with two strikes, although this time it was Marlins reliever and former Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey, who singled to right off Diamond. Slowey later came around to score the tying run in the fifth when Giancarlo Stanton’s groundout to first base plated Slowey for the third run of the inning.
“I think Scotty, in the fifth inning, was going along pretty good, but he just couldn’t finish off hitters,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “I think he had two strikes on at least four of those hitters in the fifth. They blooped a couple, and that’s probably because the ball was up. … They didn’t hit him hard, but they found places to put the ball that we didn’t have people out there for.”
Diamond entered Wednesday’s sixth inning with a 3-3 tie but allowed a leadoff single to Logan Morrison and was relieved by Ryan Pressly, who allowed a home run to Placido Polanco, meaning Diamond was charged with another run as Morrison scored on the homer. That left Diamond on the hook for the loss, and he fell to 5-7 on the year with a 5.40 ERA.
Diamond has now failed to pitch six innings in his last four starts. He’s done so just once in his last nine outings dating back to May 12. It’s quite the difference from last year, when Diamond had just six starts in which he did not go at least six innings.
“You’ve got to be able to pitch through some of those things,” Gardenhire said. “He made some pitches in the fifth. They were still up, and they feathered them in. … It just wasn’t his inning.”
The fifth hasn’t been Diamond’s inning all season long. Entering Wednesday’s outing, Diamond’s ERA in the fifth inning this year (13 games) was a whopping 11.45. It was even worse in the sixth inning, where his ERA was 13.50 before Wednesday.
Neither of those numbers improved in Wednesday’s loss as Diamond continues to search for the form that helped him be the Twins’ most consistent starter in 2012.
Twins prospects to play in Futures game: The rosters for the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game were released Wednesday, and two of the Minnesota Twins’ top prospects made the list.
Third baseman Miguel Sano and outfielder Byron Buxton will both take part in the Futures Game, which takes place during All-Star Weekend. Sano, 20, was recently promoted to Double-A New Britain after batting .330 with 16 homers and 48 RBI in 56 games with High-A Fort Myers. Similarly, Buxton also earned a promotion as he was moved from Low-A Cedar Rapids to Fort Myers. Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, batted .341 with eight homers, 55 RBI and 32 stolen bases in 68 games as the Kernels’ leadoff hitter.
“It’s another goal I’ve been trying to reach, to go out there and play against some of the best people in the minor leagues,” Buxton told MLB.com. “It will give me more motivation and determination to get up there to the big leagues.”
Sano and Buxton will be two of 50 participants in this year’s Futures Game, which will take place on Sunday, July 14 at Citi Field in New York.
FOX Sports North’s Kevin Gorg contributed to this report.