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Updated: May 8th, 2012 9:50pm
Scott Diamond delivers seven shutout innings in win over Angels

Scott Diamond delivers seven shutout innings in win over Angels

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Scott Diamond gave the Minnesota Twins something they've lacked almost all season -- a masterful pitching performance, en route to a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

The skinny

Making his first major league start since last September, left-hander Scott Diamond was brilliant on Tuesday night, holding the Angels scoreless on four hits and a walk in seven innings while striking out a career-high six.

Diamond, who was called up to replace Liam Hendriks in the rotation, looked like a completely different pitcher than the one who started seven times at the end of last season while posting a 5.08 ERA.

"I think I'm mixing up my speeds a little better," Diamond said. "My fastball's cutting a little bit, so I'm working a little more appropriately with that, and I'm just trying to work down in the zone -- that's the best way to get groundballs. ...

"I think this being my second time here I was a little more comfortable with it."

Jared Burton and Matt Capps pitched scoreless innings to finish the game.

The Twins (8-21) had not held an opponent to fewer than two runs until Tuesday.

Heading into Tuesday the Twins had been outscored 72-28 by opponents in innings 1-3. But they were able to jump out to a 3-0 first-inning lead off righty Dan Haren courtesy of an RBI double by Josh Willingham and a two-run homer by Ryan Doumit.

Erik Komatsu's sacrifice fly and Brian Dozier's RBI single made it 5-0 in the fourth inning.

The Twins offense tallied 12 hits and drew four walks, which marked the most baserunners they've had since a 7-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on April 29.

"We needed a win bad," Willingham said. "We needed something to jump-start us. Hopefully that'll get us going (Wednesday)."

Dozier, making his second career major league start, made several plays behind Diamond at shortstop, including one sliding back-handed stab to field a grounder deep in the hole to retire Albert Pujols in the sixth.

"He's huge," Diamond said. "It was big. He definitely took away a couple base hits for me, so that really helped me get back on the mound and just continue what I was doing."

Prior to Scott Baker's elbow injury the Twins rotation was set for most of spring training. Diamond was sent out to minor league camp among one of the first batches of cuts.

It didn't take him long to separate himself from the pack.

"Some of these guys needed to go down and be prepared if something happened," manager Ron Gardenhire said, "and that's exactly what we told him -- 'Go down there, you've pitched in the big leagues, you've got some time. If something happens in our rotation, you be the guy that's throwing the best.' I think he did that. ...

"So he was prepared for this, he was ready for it. And we saw a great performance today."

Turning point

After the Twins scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth, Diamond quickly retired the Angels in order in the top of the fifth.

Erick Aybar struck out swinging, Chris Iannetta grounded out to short and Mike Trout popped up to second baseman Jamey Carroll.

It was at this point the Twins appeared as if they were in full control.

"If you draw a baseball game up, that's pretty much the way you do it -- you score early, you give your starter a little breathing room and he takes it pretty much with strike out all night long," Gardenhire said.

Numbers game

10 1/3: Jared Burton's no-hit streak in which hitters have gone 0-for-32.

7: Games since the Twins last scored at least five runs.

1-for-21: Danny Valencia's current slump, dropping his batting average to .198.

Health report

OF Denard Span said he felt "a little shaken up" after crashing into the fence on Monday night. That, combined with the fact that he hasn't missed a game yet, led to Span taking a night off Tuesday.

On deck

Wednesday: vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (2-2, 4.62) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (RHP 0-6, 5.59)
Thursday: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. RHP Jason Marquis (2-1, 5.40) vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez (2-2, 2.83)
Friday: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (0-4, 6.84) vs. RHP Kyle Drabek (2-3, 3.34)

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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