Scott Diamond aims to keep his home record this season perfect with a third straight victory tonight when the Minnesota Twins close out a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Fans at Target Field have been treated to a first-hand view of Diamond's rising stock this season as the 25-year-old is 3-0 with a 1.03 earned run average in four home starts. Three of his seven starts in 2011 -- the first of his career -- came at home, but Diamond was 0-3 with a 4.58 ERA in that span.
Diamond has turned things around this season, going 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA through seven overall starts to lead the team in wins. He hasn't allowed a run in consecutive wins over the Indians and Cubs, spanning 13 innings.
The left-hander was charged with three unearned runs over seven frames to win at Cleveland on June 3, then pitched six scoreless frames six days later to best Chicago. He scattered seven hits and did not walk a batter while striking out five in the 11-3 win.
Diamond noted afterwards that the run support helped his outing.
"It's a lot easier, that's for sure," Diamond told Minnesota's website. "You can attack early and you don't have to locate as well. I was still trying to just keep the game moving because those innings were pretty long."
Diamond will face the Phillies for the first time in his career tonight and will be opposed by the struggling Joe Blanton, who has pitched to a 9.91 ERA over his last four starts while going 1-3 and giving up 11 homers in 26 1/3 innings.
Blanton did manage to snap a three-decision slide with a win at Baltimore on Friday despite giving up five runs over 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander did strike out seven in the 9-6 win.
"The way things have been going for me right now, I don't even think about [run support]," admitted Blanton, who moved to 5-6 with a 5.40 ERA in 13 games this season. "I'm just trying to survive out there with the way it's going mechanically and everything."
The 31-year-old is 4-4 with a 4.45 ERA in eight career meetings with the Twins.
These clubs have combined to plate 35 runs over the first two games of this series, with the Twins picking up an 11-7 victory in Tuesday's opener before the Phillies countered with last night's 9-8 win.
John Mayberry Jr. hit a three-run homer as part of the Phillies' six-run first inning and Jim Thome later added a mammoth two-run homer as part of a four-RBI night. Philadelphia won for just the second time in 11 games.
"Baseball is an up-and-down game," Thome said of the Phillies' recent bad play. "Any time you get a 'W,' you want to stretch that out and that's where we're at. We're not trying to look too much ahead."
Josh Willingham laced a solo home run among his two RBI to extend his hitting streak to 15 games for Minnesota, which only lost for the fourth time in 14 games. The red-hot Trevor Plouffe, who's hitting .400 this month with six homers, 13 RBI and 11 runs scored, smacked a solo shot.
"We do not die whatsoever no matter how many runs we're down. That's what Twins baseball is all about," Twins outfielder Ben Revere said.
P.J. Walters allowed four consecutive singles to start the game before exiting with right shoulder stiffness. He was charged with four runs.
Minnesota took two of three from the Phillies the last time these teams met back in 2010. However, Philadelphia claimed a series win in its last visit to Minnesota back in 2004.