MINNEAPOLIS – 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 Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
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 as 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, seven to shortstop Brian Dozier, and walked only one.
Dan 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.
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.
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 the Kansas City Royals. This was their first lead in four games since beating the Seattle Mariners 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 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 the Atlanta Braves 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 Rochester Red Wings this season, begging for the pitching-depleted Twins to give him another promotion.
He sure earned another start — and more. Diamond got struggling slugger Albert Pujols to ground out each of the three times he faced him.
NOTES: The Twins gave CF Denard Span his first day off this season, so recent acquisition Komatsu played there and batted leadoff instead. ... Haren's last strikeout-less start was on June 10, 2004, when he lasted only 3 2-3 innings for the St. Louis Cardinals. .... The Angels play the rival Texas Rangers 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 crowd. "Hey, they even booed me there when I was a reliever," he said. ... Doumit has 16 RBIs in his last 17 games.