Scott Diamond allowed only two runs in eight strong innings, giving the Minnesota bullpen some relief in a 7-2 win over the Royals to begin a Saturday day-night doubleheader.
The twinbill was necessary after a game was washed out in April, and Diamond (7-3) made sure the relief corps would be well-rested for the latter half. The lefty matched his longest career outing and continued his superb season by yielding only six hits.
Diamond's earned run average was lowered to 2.63 after tossing his eighth quality start in 11 chances. Minnesota, meanwhile, snapped its three-game skid.
The Twins also put together an offensive barrage, with a homer from Trevor Plouffe and a three-hit, two-RBI game from Alexi Casilla.
Yuniesky Betancourt drove in both of the Royals' runs, but Kansas City saw its four-game win streak snapped. As he is wont to do, Jonathan Sanchez (1-4) struggled with his command all afternoon, allowing six runs, 10 hits and walking six in only 4 1/3 innings.
It's the third time in 10 starts this season that Sanchez has walked at least six, and he's issued at least two free passes in every start thus far.
Diamond allowed a leadoff single to Alex Gordon, but erased him with a double play groundout and didn't allow another hit until the sixth.
"Nice start to the day. Good win," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "Always goes with your starting pitcher, and Diamond was fantastic. He had some quick innings early."
Meanwhile, Minnesota built an insurmountable six-run lead.
In the third, Joe Mauer led off with a single and moved to second on Josh Willingham's walk. Plouffe put the first run on the board with an RBI double down the left-field line.
Newly-extended Ryan Doumit followed with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead, and the Twins exploded for four more runs in the fifth.
Sanchez retired the first batter of the inning, but departed after allowing the next five to reach base. Doumit and Darin Mastroianni both singled with one out, and Doumit scored on Brian Dozier's infield hit.
After pulling off a double steal to put runners on second and third, the Twins went ahead by five on Casilla's two-run double. Span ended Sanchez's day with an RBI single to center for a 6-0 margin.
The Royals finally got to Diamond in the sixth on a pair of singles and an RBI groundout and again in the eighth on a Betancourt RBI single, but the deficit proved to be too much.
"(Diamond) was pretty good," said Kansas City's Brayan Pena. "I was impressed by the fact that he was keeping it down, and he was mixing up his pitches. He gave them a lot of innings, especially with this double-header. You've got to tip your hat to him."
Plouffe's solo shot in the eighth off Tommy Hottovy accounted for the final margin.
The make-up game played Saturday was originally scheduled for April 28...Doumit signed a two-year extension on Friday reportedly worth about $7 million...This is the first time in five Target Field day-night doubleheaders where the Twins won the first game...Hottovy is the "26th man" recalled for Saturday's doubleheader, as allowed by the new collective bargaining agreement.