Correia puts Twins in early hole with 2 1/3-inning clunker
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins have shown that they can score runs. That hasn’t been a problem through the first three weeks of the 2014 season.
But when Minnesota’s starting pitching puts the offense in the type of early hole that Kevin Correia did on Friday against Detroit, it’s tough for any lineup to mount a comeback.
Correia allowed eight runs — seven earned — in just 2 1/3 innings as the Tigers jumped all over the Twins before eventually winning the series opener 10-6 at Target Field. The 10 runs were the most allowed by Minnesota so far this year, and the eight runs for Correia were the most he’d surrendered in a Twins uniform.
"I just wasn’t able to hit any of my spots," Correia said. "I can’t pitch like that against a team like that or I’m going to get hit around."
Correia did indeed get hit around Friday — he allowed eight hits in his limited work — but Minnesota’s defense didn’t help him out in the second inning as right fielder Chris Colabello was charged with an error. Colabello couldn’t handle Austin Jackson’s shallow fly ball, allowing Jackson to reach second base to lead off the inning. One pitch later, Nick Castellanos took Correia deep for a two-run shot that landed in the overhang in right field for an early 2-0 Tigers lead.
Correia was able to minimize the damage in the second, holding Detroit to just those two runs — thanks in part to a play at the plate that nabbed Alex Avila for the first out of the inning. The third inning, however, was even worse for Correia after the Tigers started hitting balls hard in the second. Minnesota’s right-hander gave up a leadoff double for former Twin Torii Hunter to lead off the third. Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera then grounded out one batter later, but the floodgates opened after that.
Victor Martinez singled in a run, and Jackson followed him up with a double. Castellanos then drove in Martinez with a base hit to center, and Correia proceeded to walk Alex Avila and Andrew Romine — the latter of which came with the bases loaded.
"It’s one thing to get hit around, but I’m not going to walk guys in and give you free bases," Correia said. "I just wasn’t able to make pitches when I needed to."
The walk to Romine prompted Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to yank Correia after just 2 1/3 innings, his shortest start since he went just two innings in a 13-0 loss to Kansas City back on Aug. 5 of last year. In all, seven runs came in to score for the Tigers in the big third inning, six of which were charged to Correia. Minnesota fell into a 9-2 hole and could never dig its way out.
"He just was not able to regroup and they kind of smothered him there in the seven-run inning," Gardenhire said. "Normally, a big inning like that can eat you up early."
Correia was hit with the loss Friday and fell to 0-3 on the young season. His ERA, meanwhile, swelled from 5.47 prior to Friday’s start to 7.33 after the loss. He’s allowed five or more runs in three of his five starts, and he also surrendered eight or more hits in each of those three games.
In all five of his starts this season, Correia has had one inning in which he allowed at least three runs. Friday, it was six runs in the third inning.
"I think it’s been different pretty much every time. Today was just balls getting hit around," Correia said. "A couple times, I’ve made an error or we’ve made some poor defensive plays. Every time, it’s been different. The big innings are what will kill you, and you can’t have those."
Because of Correia’s abbreviated start Friday, Minnesota had to dip into its bullpen early. Anthony Swarzak pitched three innings — two-thirds of an inning more than Correia — while Michael Tonkin, Caleb Thielbar and Casey Fien combined to throw 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.
The Twins’ bullpen became overtaxed last year as a result of too many short starts by the starting pitchers. Minnesota hopes starts like the one Correia had Friday don’t become a trend again.
"They’ll all take the ball. They’re all game on and they’re saying they’re fine. Every one of them will do the same thing, say, ‘We’re fine,’" Gardenhire said of his bullpen. "The biggest thing here is you just don’t want to hurt one of those young guys’ arms."
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