MINNEAPOLIS — For the second night in a row, a Twins starting pitcher was knocked from the game far too early.
While it was an injury that did Phil Hughes in on Thursday, Kevin Correia lasted just four innings Friday because the White Sox hit him early, often, and hard. During that span, Correia allowed seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits as the Twins fell 9-5 to Chicago.
Correia’s brief outing — his second straight four-inning stint — came at a bad time, as Minnesota’s bullpen has been plenty taxed over the last several days. Minnesota was hoping the veteran right-hander could pitch deep into Friday’s game.
"We all know the shape of our bullpen and everything. We had to leave him out there," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "The ball was flying everywhere. Bloops, blasts, the whole package."
Three batters into the game, Correia and the Twins trailed 3-0. After singles by Adam Eaton and Alexei Ramirez to lead off the game, Correia left a curveball hanging over the plate. White Sox slugger Jose Abreu didn’t miss, tattooing the pitch 427 feet into the bullpens in left-center field.
Minnesota got a run back in the second, but Correia surrendered his second home run of the night when Ramirez led off the third inning with a solo blast. That homer came on a 1-1 pitch as Ramirez put Correia and Minnesota’s offense in a 4-1 hole.
"I threw two bad pitches to their two best hitters, and two home runs," Correia said. "I’d been pretty good at keeping the ball in the park this season. Those were just two pitches I’d like to have back."
Things weren’t over for Correia, who lost his major league-leading 13th game of the season. He walked Ramirez with one out in the fourth and allowed him to get to second on his own throwing error. Adam Dunn then singled in Ramirez and advanced to second on a Correia wild pitch.
One batter later, Dayan Viciedo’s single drove in Dunn for the seventh run of the night against Correia. Though Minnesota needed to eat innings, Correia was lifted after just four innings of work and 79 total pitches.
"He was gassed," Gardenhire said. "I think it was to the point where he was gassed (and) we don’t want to hurt him. We can’t afford that right now. . . . You just can’t get him killed. Goodness gracious. That’s two games in a row where he’s got four innings in both of them and he’s had to labor."
Correia’s previous four-inning start came against Tampa Bay last weekend. In that outing, he needed 91 pitches to get through four innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with three walks. His two latest clunkers came after a pretty good stretch for the 33-year-old veteran, whose name has popped up as a possible trade candidate.
Friday’s outing didn’t do much to help any potential trade value, but that was the last thing on the Twins’ mind after their starting pitcher went just four innings.
"He made some mistakes and they blasted a couple," Gardenhire said. "It was just one of those nights. You see it. It happens in the game. They put the barrel on it. It falls in somewhere and we’re chasing the ball everywhere. It’s never any fun, and that was our whole night."
The Twins had to use a combination of four different relievers to work the final five innings, with left-hander Caleb Thielbar working two innings in relief of Correia. With two of his worst starts of the season coming in the last week, Minnesota hopes Correia can figure things out and get back on track.
"I was on a good run, had a couple bad ones in a row, and now I need to get on another run," Correia said. "But I feel good. I wasn’t out there questioning what I was doing. I felt pretty comfortable the whole time. . . . I don’t mind giving up runs. At this point, I just want to win games. We need to win games. I don’t really care about any of the small details right now. I just want to win some games."
Twins recall Darnell: After Friday’s game, the Twins officially announced that they have recalled left-hander Logan Darnell from Triple-A Rochester. He’ll start Saturday’s game against Chicago.
To make room for Darnell on the roster, Minnesota optioned infielder Jorge Polanco to Double-A New Britain. Polanco had just one plate appearance since he was recalled on Thursday, striking out in the eighth inning of Friday’s game.
Darnell, 25, made his major league debut on May 6 of this season, pitching three flawless innings of relief against Cleveland. In 17 starts for Rochester this year, Darnell was 5-5 with a 3.43 ERA. Though he got his feet wet briefly with his one big league relief appearance, Saturday’s start will be a different story.
"It’s different this time because I actually know the game I’m throwing, so it’s not that feeling of just waiting and waiting and waiting," Darnell said Friday. "This is a little better to actually know I’m going to start the game. As far as going out there, it’s the same mind frame as it was last time, try to get each guy out and see how long I can do it for."