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Updated: July 19th, 2011 12:51am
Mackey: Reviewing other emergency spot-starts in recent Twins history

Mackey: Reviewing other emergency spot-starts in recent Twins history

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by Phil Mackey

MINNEAPOLIS -- The result -- a 6-3 Minnesota Twins loss -- was not ideal on Monday night for emergency spot-starter Scott Diamond, who made his major league debut in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians.

But if given the option prior to the game, hypothetically, to pitch 6 1/3 innings and allow three earned runs -- as he did -- would Diamond have taken that performance?

"Absolutely," said the 24-year old. "That's a quality start, right? I'm going to be happy with that every time if I can do that."

Diamond arrived to Minneapolis on Sunday night and walked into the Twins clubhouse around 9 o'clock Monday morning, three hours prior to the start of Game 1 and 10 hours prior to throwing his first pitch in the nightcap.

In attendance at Target Field were Diamond's girlfriend and a handful of family friends.

"A long day," Diamond said after the game.

"I felt like I was more nervous when I was told that I was coming up here (Sunday), and also just sitting around the clubhouse today. But when I got out there throwing with Joe (Mauer) ... I think it kind of went away."

Having not pitched in 12 days due to the Triple-A All-Star break, Diamond said his stamina "probably wasn't where I wanted to be, or even control-wise," which may have helped lead to the two decisive runs he gave up in the seventh inning -- one being the go-ahead solo home run to Lou Marson.

The Twins' Rule-5 draft pick also induced only one swinging strike in 90 pitches.

Overall though, Diamond's self evaluation was pretty spot on.

"I thought I was pretty good," he said. "I was able to challenge a lot of hitters and keep them off balance for the most part. I gave up a couple big hits, but for the most part I'm pretty satisfied with it."

It remains to be seen what the future holds for Diamond as a Twin, but looking back at the past few years, his emergency spot-start performance -- despite the loss -- ranks pretty highly among some of the others.

Matt Fox (2010): After burning multiple relievers and three starting pitchers in an extra-inning loss to the Detroit Tigers on September 2, 2010, the Twins were left searching for an emergency starter for the September 3 game against the Texas Rangers. Justin Morneau (concussion) was placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for Fox, who, on three-days rest, wound up throwing 5 2/3 innings, giving up only two runs on four hits and a walk. After the game, Fox said, "I told countless people that was the most fun I've had, that I've ever had on the mound." Manager Ron Gardenhire added, "That was a big-league performance, and I just wanted him to know that, that I hope he took it all in. Because that was pretty good."

Armando Gabino (2009): In the only start of his brief major league career, Gabino was touched up for four runs on five hits and three walks in only 2 2/3 innings on August 25, 2009 at the Metrodome against the Baltimore Orioles, and he was relieved that night by Phil Humber, then Bobby Keppel. Having pitched out of the bullpen in 31 of his 38 Triple-A appearances that season, Gabino was called up in part because Francisco Liriano was placed on the DL with left arm fatigue. Gabino also made a relief appearance for the Twins two weeks later, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks in just one inning, and he was eventually claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles that offseason. Gabino, 27, currently pitches for Triple-A Norfolk, where he has posted a 3.48 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 20 walks in 31 innings out of the bullpen.

Matt Guerrier (2006): Still trailing the Detroit Tigers by 1.5 games on September 12, 2006, the Twins turned to reliever Guerrier for a spot start in place of Scott Baker, who had allowed five earned runs or more in three of his previous four starts, failing to go beyond 5 1/3 in any of them. Guerrier held down the fort, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out three in four innings. The Twins went on to beat the Oakland Athletics 7-5, and Guerrier has not started a game since.

Mike Smith (2006): Smith's three-inning outing on August 6, 2006 was the last major league appearance of his career. Smith allowed four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings to the Kansas City Royals, but the Twins bailed him out by scoring 11 in an 11-5 win. The right-hander replaced Boof Bonser on the 25-man roster and was swapped out a few days later by Matt Garza. Smith, now 33, posted a 2.87 ERA in 125 1/3 innings last season for the Brockton Rox of the Canadian-American Association independent league.

Dave Gassner (2005): When Carlos Silva landed on the disabled list in early April, 2009, the Twins turned to southpaw Dave Gassner on April 16 against the Indians. Gassner completed six innings in his major league debut, allowing only two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk while striking out one. The only earned run he allowed was on a home run to Jose Hernandez. After the game, the 26-year-old Gassner told the Associated Press, "I could not have written a better script." Gassner made one more start five days later, getting shellacked for five runs on six hits in only 1 2/3 innings against the Royals. He was eventually optioned back to Rochester for infielder Terry Tiffee and never pitched in the big leagues again, eventually winding up playing independent ball in the Atlantic League three years later.

Grant Balfour (2003): The only start of Balfour's major league career came on September 3, 2003 when the reliever was summoned to pitch in place of the injured Joe Mays, who was eventually forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. Balfour did not fare well, giving up four runs on four hits and five walks in 2 2/3 innings to the Anaheim Angels, but the Twins came back to win 6-5 with two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. The win kept the Twins tied with the Chicago White Sox at the top of the AL Central division standings.

Carlos Pulido (2003): Rather than subjecting Balfour to another uncomfortable situation, the Twins started left-hander Pulido against the White Sox the next turn through the rotation. Pulido, who previously had not pitched in the major leagues since making 14 starts for the Twins in 1994, allowed three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out one in three innings. The Twins wound up losing 8-6 to a young Mark Buehrle. Pulido, now 39, last pitched for Monclova of the Mexican League in 2006.

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