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Updated: June 30th, 2012 2:58pm
Another efficient outing by Scott Diamond paces Twins win over K.C.

Another efficient outing by Scott Diamond paces Twins win over K.C.

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Another long, efficient outing by left-hander Scott Diamond paced the Minnesota Twins to a 7-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in Game 1 of a split doubleheader on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.

The skinny

With help from some solid defense and a couple well-placed, hard-hit outs, Diamond continued his run as the Twins' most reliable starter by holding the Royals to just two runs in eight innings.

Diamond gave up six hits, walked two and struck out four, and he has now pitched at least six full innings in nine of his 11 starts this season. Only twice has Diamond allowed more than four earned runs in an outing.

The Royals' runs came on an RBI groundout by Yuniesky Betancourt in the top of the sixth inning and an RBI single by Betancourt in the eighth.

"I'm just trying to focus on strike one, I guess," Diamond said. "The rhythm's going pretty good, but right now I'm just trying to throw strikes and keep the game going and get us right back in so we can keep hitting."

After Betancourt's single and a wild pitch, the Royals had runners in scoring position with a chance to make things interesting, but Diamond struck out Billy Butler and pumped his first as he walked back to the dugout.

"Just a hanging curveball that luckily he swung through," Diamond said.

When you're hot, you're hot.

It took the Twins offense a few innings to take advantage of an erratic Jonathan Sanchez, who entered the game with six more walks (34) than strikeouts (28).

The Twins loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning, but Ryan Doumit struck out looking to end the threat. The Twins also stranded runners in scoring position in the second inning but could not score.

An RBI double by Trevor Plouffe and a sac fly by Doumit put the Twins on the board in the third, but Sanchez wiggled out of any further trouble until the fifth inning, where the Twins finally broke the game open with four runs. Brian Dozier's cue-ball infield single scored Doumit from second base, Alexi Casilla's double scored two, and Denard Span made it 6-0 with a single to center.

Sanchez was charged with six earned runs on 10 hits and six walks in 4 1/3 innings.

Plouffe added a solo homer in the eighth off lefty Tommy Hottovy.

Right-hander Cole De Vries was called up to start Saturday's nightcap as part of MLB's new rule in 2012 that allows teams to carry 26 players for scheduled doubleheaders. De Vries will face right-hander Luke Hochevar.

Turning point

With runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the fifth, Dozier collected one of the most bizarre RBI singles anyone will collect all year.

Swinging at a 1-0 changeup, Dozier hit a squibber off the end of his bat toward the edge of the grass wide of the first-base line. But the spin of the ball carried it back across the line and into fair territory, not unlike a sweeping putt.

"That's what I was trying to do," Dozier joked. "I went up there looking to do that."

Dozier beat catcher Brayan Pena's throw to first base, and with nobody covering home plate, Doumit scampered home to put the Twins up 3-0.

"When I saw it in the grass, and I saw the amount of spin on it -- spinning really, really hard -- I was like, 'Well, why not? I'm dying for a hit, so let's take off and see what happens,'" Dozier said.

Doumit added, "Heads-up to Dozier for running it out. I don't know if I would have. You see it go foul by 10 feet, you don't think it's going to go back in. But hats off to him."

Casilla followed with a two-RBI double, and Span drove in Casilla with a single up the middle. Sanchez finally exited the game trailing 6-0.

Dozier kept the ball, which had a large knot next to one of the seams.

Numbers game

16: Baserunners for the Twins against Sanchez.

5: Stolen bases for the Twins off Sanchez and Pena.

2: Twins baserunners thrown out at home plate.

16: Home runs for Plouffe, which leads the team.

Overheard


"It was all him tonight. He made my job easy. I should have just brought a rocking chair back there."
-- Doumit on Diamond

"We kept the ball. Ripley's Believe It or Not or something. Or Guiness Book of Records for farthest foul ball that ever went fair."
-- Manager Ron Gardenhire on Dozier's infield single

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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