TORONTO – At times Sunday, Scott Diamond sounded as if he was out of answers.
“I’m still confident in my approach and my preparation,” Diamond said. “The results just aren’t there. It stinks, this really stinks.”
Diamond was frustrated after his pitching led the Twins down the path to an 11-5 loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday. Toronto hitters squared up a number of Diamond’s pitches, and the sound of the crack of the bat rang throughout Rogers Centre — which wasn’t easy to do because an enthusiastic announced crowd of 43,795 attended the game.
While Diamond was roughed up, Toronto righthander Todd Redmond went five innings and picked up his first major league victory.
Diamond had trouble keeping the ball down early and lost battles later before he was pulled after 4⅔ innings. He has failed to pitch at least six innings in five of his past six outings. But Sunday’s start was especially troubling, coming after manager Ron Gardenhire’s pep talk following Friday’s loss.
The Twins responded by winning Saturday, but Sunday turned into one of those move-along-nothing-to-see here afternoons. Now the Twins are in Tampa Bay for four games before visiting the Yankees next weekend for three. They needed Sunday’s games to set them up for a decent road trip. Now they limp into Tropicana Field against a Rays team in contention in the AL East.
“Hopefully with a change of scenery we’ll play well down there,” said Joe Mauer, who played first base Sunday.
He was asked how Diamond looked from his post at first base: “I think the ball started to get up and, against a team like this, they will make you pay.”
Diamond escaped two-on, one-out jams in the first and second innings. Pitching coach Rick Anderson went to the mound at one point to talk to him about throwing more quality strikes, and Diamond tried to adjust.
But the sound of the ball off the bat suggested that he wasn’t fooling anyone.
Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on Colby Rasmus’ two run homer. Diamond believed he had Rasmus struck out earlier in the bat but did not get the call from home plate umpire Paul Emmel.
Diamond felt he made a bad pitch to Jose Reyes, who drove a belt-high changeup out to left in the fifth for a 3-2 Toronto lead. The crusher came five batters later, when Rajai Davis hit a three-run homer to make it 6-2. It was Davis’ second homer of the year.
Diamond gave up six runs on eight hits and four walks while striking out one. He has given up eight home runs over his past four starts.
“I thought I executed against Davis and just paid the price for it,” Diamond said. “It’s frustrating. I think I’m making quality pitches. I’m just not getting the results there. Whether I need to change my pitch selection … I don’t know.”
The Twins’ most accomplished starter last season is now the most puzzling member of their rotation. Diamond is 5-8 with a 5.52 ERA and, yes, he remains a member of the rotation as of now.
“He will be out there the next time,” Gardenhire said, “until someone tells me something different.”
His next scheduled start is Friday against the Yankees in New York, where the Twins are … never mind.
Righthander Vance Worley on Sunday won his fifth consecutive start at Class AAA Rochester. Lefthander Andrew Albers is 8-3 with a 3.00 ERA. If the Twins wanted to juggle the rotation again, there are a couple candidates to choose from.
They don’t appear to be ready to do so, but Diamond knows he is running out of rope.
“If it continues this way I can understand that a move needs to be made,” Diamond said, “but I’m doing what they want me to do and that is take the ball every five days.”
La Velle E. Neal III • firstname.lastname@example.org