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Twins’ bats come up short in nightcap

July 18, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — It was a long day on Monday for Scott Diamond. But that did not stop the Twins’ left-hander from enjoying it.

Diamond gave the Twins just about all they could have asked for on Monday night in his Major League debut. Unfortunately for Diamond and the Twins, the offense could not get anything going in a 6-3 loss to the Indians in the nightcap of a doubleheader.

“It’s been a fun experience, and I really had some fun with these guys today,” Diamond said. “I thought it was pretty good. I was able to challenge a lot of hitters and keep them off balance for the most part. I gave up a couple big hits, but for the most part I’m pretty satisfied with it.”

Pitching for the first time in 12 days, Diamond went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits, with a strikeout and two walks. He held the Indians without a hit for the first two innings, and kept them off the scoreboard until the fifth.

When he exited in the seventh, Diamond got a huge ovation from the crowd at Target Field.

“It was unbelievable,” Diamond said. “It’s what every kid dreams of, especially being my Major League debut, it was really exciting. It’s awesome to have that kind of crowd here.”

Before he let Diamond walk back to the dugout, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made sure to tell Diamond to take in the moment.

“I said, ‘You did a heck of a job, enjoy this. These people are going to be cheering for you when you walk off. You’ll never forget this moment,'” Gardenhire said.

It would have come as no surprise if Diamond showed some nerves early in the game, with it being his big league debut.

But Diamond said the nerves subsided once he warmed up in the bullpen, and he looked very comfortable, as he retired the first six batters he faced with five groundouts and a flyout.

“I thought he was great. I know he had some nerves running. We’ve all been there,” said Twins catcher Joe Mauer. “I was impressed with him throwing his breaking pitches for strikes. He threw the ball well, and some good pitches, but they had a couple balls off the bat and things like that. But that’s what good teams do to win. I thought he pitched great.”

After the Twins took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI single by Mauer, the Indians answered with a pair of two-out runs in the fifth, as they strung together a double, a walk and two singles.

Mauer went 3-for-4 in the game, matching his 3-for-4 performance in the first game of the doubleheader. The six-hit day improved his batting average thirty points, raising it to .290.

“I was just trying to keep it simple and not do too much,” Mauer said. “On days like this, with the heat and things like that, you get a little more fatigued and you maybe stay within yourself a little bit. It was good to get a couple hits and get on base, but I’d rather take some wins.”

Right-hander Fausto Carmona picked up his fifth win of the season for the Indians, as he pitched for the first time since July 2, after going on the disabled list with a strained right quad.

Carmona gave up just two runs on seven hits, with a strikeout and a hit batter to secure his first win since June 15.

The Twins lost consecutive games for the first time since losing six in a row from June 22-27. They also dropped back to seven games behind the first-place Indians.

“From now on, just about every series against our division is important for them and for us,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “We know that those guys are in it, and they’re going to be in it. The title runs through Minnesota. They’ve been the best team in our division over the past few years, and they won it last year.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins notebook, 7/17

July 17, 2011 Comments off

Twins put Baker on DL, promote Diamond

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins made a number of roster moves after Sunday’s game, placing Scott Baker on the disabled list, selecting the contract of Scott Diamond, while optioning Matt Tolbert and recalling Chuck James.With Baker having second thoughts about his scheduled start on Monday afternoon, the Twins chose to put him on the 15-day DL, giving the right-hander a few more days to rest his strained right elbow.

“He was really unsure whether he was going to be able to go in this start,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He thought he could pitch, but he didn’t know the ramifications after he pitched, how that would come into play, if he’d be really sore and end up having to miss starts after it.”

In place of Baker, Anthony Swarzak will start the first game of Monday’s doubleheader against the Indians. He was originally scheduled to pitch the nightcap of the twin bill.

Diamond, a lefty who is 4-8 with a 4.70 ERA for Triple-A Rochester this season, will make his Major League debut in Game 2 of the doubleheader.

A 2010 Rule 5 Draft selection by the Twins, Diamond will take the 40-man roster spot once occupied by Eric Hacker.

“We’ll give [Diamond] a chance to kind of regroup, sit around here, see what it’s all about, get a feel for a few more things,” Gardenhire said. “We’re facing the Cleveland Indians and he’s being thrown into a fire here, so we’ll see how he does. He’s a nice-looking young pitcher.”

Baker was scheduled to make his first start since July 5, when he exited the game after just five innings due to a right elbow strain.

Instead, he’ll be on the DL until at least Friday with the move retroactive to July 7.

“He wanted to pitch, but it just wasn’t going to work out,” Gardenhire said. “He was very unsure of how it was going to turn out. You can’t have uncertainty out there.”

Span will stay in center field upon return

MINNEAPOLIS — When he returns from the disabled list, Denard Span will be the Twins center fielder.

When asked if he had given any thought about how the outfield would look when Span returns from the DL after being sidelined for six weeks with a concussion, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he would not take away Span’s starting spot due to the injury.

“Denard’s our center fielder,” Gardenhire said.

“You’re talking about a personality here that feels he belongs in center field, too. You have to weigh a lot of things. He’s earned his right to play center field.”

With Span out, rookie Ben Revere has done an excellent job filling in, both at the plate and in the field.

Gardenhire indicated he would like to keep Revere in the lineup, but would not do so at Span’s expense.

“We’ll just let it play out, see what happens,” Gardenhire said. “If I have to make changes I would — but I’d talk to Denard about that [first] — to keep everybody’s bats in the lineup. We’ve already seen Revere can play right field, too.

“So, if I have to keep his bat in the lineup, which I would love to, it’s not going to be easy, but we’re just going to have to figure it out. Whatever makes us win, whatever makes us go. Right now Ben’s been making us go.”

Gardy, Nishioka let it ride for World Cup

MINNEAPOLIS — With their respective nations squaring off in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, manager Ron Gardenhire and infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka made a friendly wager on the game.

There is no money riding on the game between the United States and Japan, but the loser of the bet will have to wear a T-shirt of the winner’s choice.

“It’s a very exciting day for both of us,” Gardenhire said. “Our women versus his women. Pretty neat.”

The Twins skipper said he already had a shirt in mind for Nishioka.

“I wish I could trash talk in Japanese right now, ’cause he’d hear it all,” Gardenhire said. “He’s going to have to wear, ‘I love American women.’ I don’t know what he’s got for me.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.