MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Dan Haren faltered, and the Los Angeles Angels had a fruitless night at the plate.
Scott 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 Angels on Tuesday.
“It’s unfortunate,” Haren said. “We had some momentum and just kind of laid an egg.”
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 help a reeling rotation which is 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 and walked only one. The Angels were shut out for the seventh time this season, four more than the Twins.
“Talked about it last week,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, refusing to analyze the hitting struggles any further.
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.
“I wasn’t myself out there,” Haren said. “Couldn’t finish any of my pitches.”
He complained of lower-back muscle stiffness but said he should be fine.
“I just don’t think he got in his rhythm,” Scioscia said. “Usually it’s something he’s able to work through, but today he just couldn’t get the ball down.”
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.
“You need to take the good with the bad. Hopefully we have a lot of good coming,” said second baseman Howie Kendrick.
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.
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.
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 — the first of his career — 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 Atlanta 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 Red Wings this season, begging for the pitching-depleted Twins to give him another promotion.
“Seeing video of the guy and getting in the batter’s box was two different things,” Scioscia said.
He sure earned another start — and more. Diamond got struggling slugger Albert Pujols to ground out each of the three times he faced him.
“We just kept attacking him. We seemed to be pretty successful with him in past games so we just tried to stick with that same game plan,” Diamond said.
NOTES: The Angels have lost seven of the last eight games Haren has started. … Haren’s last strikeout-less start was on June 10, 2004, when he lasted only 3 2-3 innings for St. Louis. …. The Angels play rival Texas on Friday for the first time this year, and LHP C.J. Wilson is scheduled to start against his former team. But Wilson said he’s not worried about the reaction he’ll get from the Rangers fans. “Hey, they even booed me there when I was a reliever,” he said. … The Angels had scored four or more runs in their last 14 games against the Twins. That was the longest active streak in the majors.