Scott Diamond is a creature of habit and a man dedicated to perfecting his craft. He is gaining a reputation in the Twins clubhouse for extensive video analysis of opponents that leads to impressive pregame reports.
When catchers meet with pitchers to devise a game plan, the catcher usually does most of the talking. It’s the other way around with Diamond, who usually brings hand-written notes to the meetings.
“This kid is ahead of his time,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s a young man and he’s got it figured out. He has a pitch plan and basically runs the meeting, which is impressive.”
The approach has helped Diamond become the staff ace in only 38 career starts with the Twins.
But game plans need to be executed or they mean nothing.
On Sunday at Target Field, Diamond couldn’t keep his pitches down, as he had in previous starts. He couldn’t make the right adjustments. He couldn’t get his change-of-pace game going.
Baltimore’s Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Steve Pearce clubbed home runs. It was clubs over Diamond, 6-0.
The Twins missed out on a chance to win three-game series against the Orioles, as Diamond was charged with a season-high six runs over 5 ⅔ innings on nine hits and three walks. He did not strike out a batter.
“I got eaten alive out there,” said Diamond, who is 0-3 at Target Field and 3-0 on the road.
In his previous outing, Diamond pitched seven shutout innings against Boston — at Fenway Park — to lead the Twins to victory. He was a different pitcher on Sunday.
He threw a curveball that broke over the middle of the plate to Davis that became a two-run homer and a 2-0 Orioles lead. The ball traveled an estimated 442 feet. Baltimore took a 3-0 lead on Chris Snyder’s RBI single in the second. Jones lined a 1-2 curveball to left in the third for his homer and a 4-0 lead.
Baltimore loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Diamond escaped with one run scored on a groundout. Pearce hit a 402-foot homer to center off a belt-high changeup in the sixth.
“They were swinging early in the count,” Gardenhire said. “They never let him get into any kind of rhythm, and when he got the ball up they seemed to make him pay.”
Diamond usually pitches around the knees, or he eventually makes the mechanical adjustment to hit his spots more frequently. He usually can adjust within one or two pitches. He couldn’t figure out a solution on Sunday.
“That’s why it was frustrating, especially my changeup,” Diamond said. “I was just pushing it a lot. I was throwing curveballs that really weren’t spinning the way I wanted them to. It was just frustrating from beginning to finish.”
Baltimore lefthander Wei-Yin Chen had no problem chewing through a Twins lineup that had scored at least five runs in six consecutive games coming into Sunday. Chen left the game after the fifth inning because of what orginally was called a right oblique strain (but later downgraded to a cramp). Baltimore’s bullpen was just as stingy, finishing things to hand the Twins their second shutout loss of the season.
Diamond, who went 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA last season, entered 2013 as the sure thing in the Twins rotation. And, except for Sunday, he has lived up to that status. He’ll get a chance to shake off Sunday’s game on Friday when he faces the Red Sox again.
He’s already talking about game-planning for Boston.
“No one wants to go out there and give up six runs,” he said. “It is going to be easier to make some adjustments because it seemed like everything went wrong today, so hopefully we can just work in the pen and come out against Boston and pitch a little more effectively.”