DETROIT (AP) — Scott Diamond knew he was probably facing his biggest batter of the day. As it turned out, he was right.
With his Twins losing 2-0 to the Tigers, Diamond was facing Omar Infante with a runner on and two out in the fifth. Infante himself wasn't what Diamond was worried about - it was the batter on deck.
"When I walked Austin Jackson, I realized that if I didn't get Infante, I was going to have to face Miguel Cabrera with two runners on base," he said. "That's a dangerous situation."
He didn't have to worry. Infante hit a grounder to short and Diamond got out of the inning. Minnesota then scored five runs in the sixth and cruised to a 10-4 victory in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
The loss dropped Detroit a full game behind the White Sox in the AL Central.
Diamond (12-8) allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings, and improved his career ERA against the Tigers to 3.07 in four starts. He struck out five.
"After my last couple starts, I've worked really hard on keeping the ball down in the zone," he said between games. "Today, I was able to execute my pitches where I wanted them."
After leaving his previous start with shoulder weakness, Max Scherzer (16-7) pitched five shutout innings despite a fastball that topped out at 93 instead of his usual high-90s. However, he couldn't get an out in the sixth, and ended up allowing three runs in five-plus innings.
"I knew if I could go out there and mix speeds, it would be just as effective as having velocity," he said. "I know I don't have to have velocity to be a good pitcher."
He wasn't getting any arguments from the Minnesota clubhouse.
"He's still got great stuff, even if he wasn't throwing 97," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's got the great change, a great breaking ball and everything is moving all over the place. We really had to be patient with him."
The Tigers led 2-0 early, with an RBI and a run from Miguel Cabrera, but Detroit's notoriously bad defense melted down in the sixth, leading to five Minnesota runs. Ben Revere led off with a fly to left that Andy Dirks dropped just short of the wall. By the time Dirks could locate the ball, Revere was at third with what was ruled a triple.