Quality performances by Minnesota pitchers have been few and far between this season, but the Twins are hoping they can build on the effort put forth by Scott Diamond on Friday as they continue a three-game set against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field ton Saturday.
The Twins began this series on a three-game slide and had dropped four of five overall, so it was imperative for the club to generate some excitement considering how poorly the season has gone overall. Diamond responded in a big way for the hosts as he pitched just the second complete game of the campaign for Minnesota with the team posting a surprising 11-0 victory in the process.
Not only was it the first time a Twins hurler had made it through all nine innings since late May, it was also just the third shutout of the season as well (fewest in the American League).
Now 9-4 on the season, Diamond allowed just three hits and struck out six as he refrained from issuing even a single walk in the masterpiece. Considering Diamond was coming off two starts in which he permitted 19 hits and nine runs over a combined 12 innings, Friday's effort was deserving.
"I wasn't going to change my game plan. I was trying to attack," Diamond said. "I wasn't going out there for strikeouts. I wanted them to put the ball in play and you saw our defense. It was outstanding. So when that happens, all I'm trying to do is get ground balls."
On offense the Twins were lifted by Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau who combined to knock in seven runs, hitting home runs number 26 and 12, respectively. Denard Span and Joe Mauer both scored three times, the latter lifting his batting average to .332 thanks to three singles.
Travis Hafner was responsible for two of the three hits generated by the Cleveland lineup, the other single coming from Jose Lopez, as the Tribe fell to an even 50-50 on the season and 4 1/2 games out of first in the AL Central.
Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin was saddled with the loss and was knocked around for eight runs on 10 hits in just four innings of action. Tomlin has now given up 10 home runs over his last 42 1/3 innings of work and that includes one long ball in the first inning of each of his last three contests.
Tomlin has been shaky all season long, giving up 22 earned runs in 16 innings, resulting in an ERA of 12.38.
"You don't ever want to go out there and have a season like this," said Tomlin, who is 5-8 with a 5.87 ERA this year. "You can sit there and say, 'That stuff happens every now and then,' or say, 'People have bad years.' But today was inexcusable to me. That was just a bad performance."
Already with one loss on his record against the Twins this season, Justin Masterson tries to even the score tonight as he takes the hill for Cleveland.
A product of San Diego State, Masterson began 2012 a mere 2-6 and since then has clawed his way back to within one game of .500 at 7-8 thanks to posting three wins in his last four decisions.
The right-hander was last in action on Monday when he permitted just a single run on seven hits and a walk, while striking out six over the course of 7 1/3 innings in a 3-1 victory versus Baltimore at home.
Masterson, who is 3-4 on the road with a hefty 5.33 ERA in nine games this season, has a career mark of only 1-5 versus Minnesota, although his ERA over the course of 14 games against the Twins is a manageable 3.61.
While this is considered his third season in the majors, Twins pitcher Samuel Deduno is still severely lacking in experience as he gets set to appear in his fourth game of 2012.
The right-hander, who entered the league with Colorado in 2010 and then moved to San Diego last season before heading to Minnesota, came up empty in his first two appearances of this year but finally broke through on Sunday against Kansas City.
On the road at Kauffman Stadium, Deduno allowed just one run on six hits and three walks, striking out four over 6 1/3 innings as he registered his first big league win.
Outside of yesterday's shutout victory, Minnesota's pitching staff has been roughed up time and time again by the competition and now shows a collective ERA of 4.95 which is the highest in the American League and second-highest in all of baseball entering play on Saturday.
The Sports Network