PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Scott Diamond doesn’t know if he’ll get another start. But he knew he probably wouldn’t if Saturday’s outing wasn’t good.
The lefthander, one of four candidates for the lone open spot in the Twins’ rotation, allowed two runs over 3⅔ innings at Tradition Stadium, and believes he made a good case for staying in the competition.
“I felt like my timing was better, my rhythm was a lot better, my pace was better,” Diamond said. “So I’m happy with the outcome.”
Some of the 5,505 fans at Tradition Stadium might not have agreed, since the game ended in a 3-3 tie — the third time in a week that a Twins game has ended deadlocked.
Eduardo Escobar drove home two runs with a bases-loaded, eighth-inning single, and Jermaine Mitchell finished the three-run rally with a single to score Chris Colabello.
Diamond is trying to recapture the job he lost during a disappointing 6-13 season last year, but he has to stave off Vance Worley, Samuel Deduno and Kyle Gibson, among others, to do so.
And the pressure is beginning to build, Diamond said, especially since his 5.59 spring ERA is worse than Deduno’s and Gibson’s.
“I thought today was a big day. If I didn’t show some progress or take big steps toward getting back to my former self, I think it was going to be a real tough stretch,” the 27-year-old Canadian said.
He surrendered a solo home run to Mets outfielder Chris Young in the first inning, the fifth time in seven innings this spring, to that point, that he had been scored upon.
“We tried to go in, and I just left it over the plate. But solo home runs aren’t really going to kill me,” Diamond said.
“It’s the walks that will come back to bite me. And they have in the past couple of games, but today I was able to minimize them.”
He walked three and struck out six, a surprise since he never whiffed more than five hitters in a game last year.
Diamond said an improved curveball gets the credit, a positive sign since that was the pitch he had the most trouble with last year.
“Too many walks, he knows that. But overall, a good performance,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “The ball had some dive to it. His fastball had some movement.”
So does he get another start, or is it time for Deduno and his 0.93 ERA to get one? Gardenhire said he doesn’t know yet.
Nor does Diamond.
Pitching coach Rick Anderson “said it was a step in the right direction,” Diamond said, “and we’ll just continue to work on it for that next start. Whether there will be a start, or [if I’m] coming out of the pen again, I’m going to prepare the same.
“It feels like everything is progressing.”