MINNEAPOLIS — The Angels are tired of tipping their caps to opposing pitchers, tired of being asked whether their failure to score had more to do with the guy on the mound or their approach at the plate.
They were supposed to have one of their most potent lineups ever, but Tuesday night's 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins in Target Field marked the seventh time they have been shut out in 31 games, most in the major leagues.
"It's mind-boggling," Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said. "With the lineup we have, the talent we have, I wouldn't think this would happen."
The Angels have a history of struggling against pitchers they have never faced, and Twins left-hander Scott Diamond continued that trend Tuesday night, mixing a lively 90-mph fastball with a cut fastball, slider and changeup to blank the Angels on four hits in seven innings.
Diamond, a 25-year-old Canadian, was signed by Atlanta as an undrafted free agent out of Guelph, Ontario, in 2007 and snagged by the Twins in the 2010 Rule 5 draft. Tuesday night was his eighth major league start.
Against an Angels team that scored 35 runs and had 24 extra-base hits while winning six of its previous eight games, Diamond struck out six, walked one and retired the last 11 batters he faced; overall, the last 17 Angels batters went down.
"You don't know him," said Hunter, who struck out three times. "I hate saying that. I'm scratching my head. I don't know how that happened. Hey, the guy pitched a good game, give him his props. I'm not going to tip my cap, though."
Angels starter Dan Haren was rocked for five runs and eight hits in 32/3 innings, walking two and striking out none, a dud that snapped a string of 13 consecutive quality starts for the Angels.
Haren's lower back stiffened during warmups, and he was unable to get loose during a game in which he gave up three runs in the first inning on Josh Willingham's RBI double and Ryan Doumit's two-run home run and two in the fourth on Erik Komatsu's sacrifice fly and Brian Dozier's RBI single.
"Obviously, I wasn't myself," said Haren, who has never missed a start because of injury. "I couldn't finish any of my pitches. It was obvious by the way I was throwing that I couldn't get anything behind the ball. Usually you loosen up during the game, but today was the opposite. It got progressively worse."
Haren (1-3) expects to make his next start, but a loss to the team with baseball's worst record, combined with Texas' win over Baltimore, dropped the Angels 71/2 games behind the Rangers in the American League West.
"We had some momentum," Haren said, "and I laid an egg."
So did the offense. Albert Pujols grounded out four times, his average falling to .190. Texas slugger Josh Hamilton has more home runs (five) and RBIs (10) in his last six at-bats than Pujols (one homer, nine RBIs) has on the season.
After three straight two-hit games, No. 2 hitter Alberto Callaspo was hitless in four at-bats. The only time the Angels had more than one baserunner was in the second inning, which ended with Erick Aybar lining out to third with two on.
The Angels are hitting .244 as a team with a .295 on-base percentage, .373 slugging percentage and a .237 average with runners in scoring position.
"I don't feel like we're being outgunned," Hunter said. "I think it's a six-week funk. I really can't wait until we get out of this."