Diamond sharp in win over White Sox
CHICAGO — All Scott Diamond needed was another outing against the Chicago White Sox to get what he’d been seeking since late June.
The right-handed starter for the Minnesota Twins picked up his first win since June 20 on Wednesday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field, when he threw 6 1/3 solid innings in a 4-3 victory against the White Sox — a team he’s beaten three times this season, including that win back in June at Target Field.
After spending nearly a month at Triple-A Rochester in August trying to find his form, this performance did a lot for Diamond’s confidence. He also came into this season uncertain of his arm, after having a bone chip removed last December.
“I think just going down to Rochester was kind of that reset for me,” said Diamond, who gave up three runs on five hits and two walks. “I feel like I’m building off that a little bit. Personally it hasn’t been that long (since I’ve won a game), but up here it’s been a while. I’m hoping to finish out the season strong and I hope this means that even with the setback in December last year ... I’m holding strong and fighting to the end. I’m pretty happy with it.”
The Twins are, too.
After dropping five straight games against the White Sox, they snapped the skid and finished 11-8 this year against their American League Central rival.
The Twins (65-86) — who head to Oakland next for a four-game series — also avoided being swept for the 11th time this year.
Glen Perkins closed out the ninth for his 36th save, while Casey Fien and Jared Burton each made scoreless appearances in relief.
John Danks (4-14) took his fourth straight loss for Chicago, despite turning around an ugly outing quickly and making it into something he can build off for his next start. All four of the runs he allowed came in the first 1 2/3 innings, on seven hits.
After that, Danks and White Sox relievers did not allow another hit.
It didn’t take long for the Twins to jump all over Danks, who came into the game with a 0-3 record and 9.42 ERA in his three previous starts. After scratching out a run in the first inning on two hits, Minnesota scored three times in the second on five hits, including doubles by Ryan Doumit and Eduardo Escobar.
Chris Colabello, Eric Fryer and Brian Dozier also had run-scoring singles in the inning to give Diamond a quick 4-0 lead.
“I felt like the first few innings, they were almost sitting off-speed on me,” Danks said. “I feel I threw a lot more fastballs from the third inning on. The reason I didn’t make the adjustment earlier than that was I thought it was just bad pitches. They weren’t where I wanted to throw them. I noticed there were less and less good swings (at my fastball).”
Danks looked destined to leave a fourth straight outing before working six innings, but turned things around in a hurry. He retired 16 hitters in a row between the second and seventh innings to keep the Sox within reasonable striking distance.
Alejandro De Aza eventually got Chicago on the board with a solo homer to lead off the fourth — his fifth leadoff home run of the year and just the second hit allowed by Diamond. It was also De Aza’s 16th homer, which is the most by a White Sox leadoff hitter since Ray Durham also belted 16 in 2001.
As for Diamond, the Minnesota starter got out of that inning OK, but started to tire — eventually yielding two more runs on a one-out single by Jordan Danks to make it 4-3 in the seventh.
He was relieved by Fien, who preserved the one-run lead by getting the only two hitters he faced to strand Jordan Danks on first.
John Danks’ day also ended at that point. He just couldn’t get enough offensive support to make it count for anything more than carryover confidence — something Chicago manager Robin Ventura has seen too much this season.
The White Sox have lost more one-run games than they have won and that frustrates Ventura.
“That’s what makes it tougher and tougher every night to come back, is you’re close but you just don’t get it done,” Ventura said. “And that’s with sports in general ... when you’re close and you don’t get it done, it always stings more.”
Notes: The White Sox plan to skip LHP Hector Santiago’s next scheduled turn in the starting rotation to give him some rest, but he could still take the turn if needed. ... Before the game, White Sox prospect 2B Micah Johnson was honored by general manager Rick Hahn and assistant GM Buddy Bell for leading the minor leagues with 84 stolen bases this season, split between three levels. He was given a commemorative base and plaque. ... Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he tries not to get too caught up thinking about the future, even with highly touted prospects on the way like CF Byron Buxton and 3B Miguel Sano. “We all know it’s coming, but I can’t control any of that right now,” he said. “We joke about it an awful lot, you know, ‘When these guys get here ... ‘ but really a lot of that is down the road. They’ll be in spring training, these guys, and hopefully I’ll be there with them. That’s the first priority, to try and be there with them.”