BOSTON – If Scott Diamond’s 2013 debut hadn’t been delayed by the discovery of a bone chip in his elbow in December, he would have been ready to start on Opening Day, not April 13. Then maybe he would have been given a shot at a complete-game shutout Tuesday.
The way Diamond is trending he will get his chances to go the distance.
He went far enough Tuesday to lead the Twins to a 6-1 victory over Boston at Fenway Park. Diamond was efficient. He was crafty. He held Boston to three hits over seven shutout innings with no walks and two strikeouts. Stephen Drew’s single to lead off the third inning was Boston’s last hit off Diamond as he retired 15 in a row and 17 of 18 to punctuate his outing.
“I might as well take out a rocking chair back there, he makes it so easy,’’ said Twins catcher Ryan Doumit, who was 2-for-4 with a double and his first home run of the season. “He’s one of the most prepared pitchers that I’ve ever been around. He has a game plan every time out. He sticks to it and never wavers. Nights like this are fun.‘’
Diamond was removed after seven innings and 96 pitches (97 is his season high), and Josh Roenicke worked the final two innings. The December surgery to remove the chip put Diamond behind schedule, leading to his late debut. They are not quite ready to turn him loose.
“I was geared up to go. After talking to them I think it was the smart decision,’’ Diamond said. “Especially after the way the [long] eighth inning played out. It’s still really early. It was only my fourth or fifth start coming off of surgery. It’s the smart thing to do.’’
Even Twins manager Ron Gardenhire added: “We didn’t want to push it. We’ll push it a little later.’’
Diamond (3-2, 3.03 ERA) had his good stuff as well as good control, and it allowed him to be aggressive and easier to be unpredictable.
He needed 11 pitches to get through the fourth, 12 to get through the fifth and only eight to get through the sixth. He threw first-pitch strikes to all nine batters he faced over those three innings. He needed 15 pitches to get through the seventh, pushing his total to 96.
Doumit doubled in the fifth inning and later scored the first run of the game on Wilkin Ramirez’s RBI single. Doumit gave Diamond more cushion in the seventh with a towering home run to left.
Doumit had to survive the replay police, though, as umpires made sure a fan sitting in the first row on top of the Green Monster hadn’t reached over the wall to get the ball.
“I was about to George Brett them,’’ Doumit said, referring to Brett’s rage when his home run was taken away during the famous pine tar game in 1983. “It’s nice to get off the schneid.’’
The Twins added four in the eighth to break the game open, fueled by two errors by third baseman Pedro Ciriaco, who had just replaced the injured Will Middlebrooks.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who replaced the injured David Ross, homered in the ninth for Boston’s only run.
Down the road, it could be Diamond pitching in the ninth, finishing what he started. Especially if more nights like Tuesday are coming.
“We are all on the same page, that we want to get that pitch count up,’’ Diamond said. “That’s the goal right now, to get stronger.’’