A singular slip. In so many Twins setbacks this season, that’s all it’s taken.
A wave of uncharacteristic miscues Wednesday at Comerica Park put Minnesota’s 7-1 loss at Detroit far out of reach, but one pitch on an otherwise stellar night from Kevin Correia had manager Ron Gardenhire shaking his head, again.
After Brian Dozier’s two-out, RBI single broke a scoreless tie in the top of the seventh, Correia retired the first two batters he saw in the inning’s lower half. He then put Bryan Holaday in an 0-2 hole.
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Two offerings later, Holaday got in front of a curveball that floated in the zone just a little too long and roped a single past third baseman Trevor Plouffe and down the left-field line.
It would be all the wiggle room the American League Central-leading Tigers would require.
“We were one pitch away from being to (setup man Jared) Burton and (closer Glen) Perkins,” Gardenhire said.
After Holaday reached, Austin Jackson singled, setting up former Twin Torii Hunter’s two-run, go-ahead double. It also clinched Minnesota’s fourth loss in its past five games, dropping the Twins to 55-70.
Correia (8-10, 4.52 ERA) had been brilliant against Major League Baseball’s best hitting team. Chased following Hunter’s game-turning swing, he finished with a line of four runs on nine hits with one strikeout in 6 2/3 innings.
“I feel bad for him,” Gardenhire said. “He pitched great. That was his ballgame all the way; he just couldn’t finish off the seventh.
Said Hunter: “You can’t take it away from Correia; he pitched a really good game, but this team, we’re a professional team, and we make adjustments throughout the game. We were able to make the adjustment late and win the game.”
Two of Correia’s charged runs were unearned. Reliever Caleb Thielbar struck out Prince Fielder but forgot to cover home when the ball eluded catcher Ryan Doumit, allowing Hunter to score all the way from second by the time Doumit collected the ball and threw to first.
“They call me the hyena,” Hunter said with a grin. “I always take advantage of the weak link.”
Victor Martinez then doubled off of Thielbar, scoring Miguel Cabrera, whom Correia had intentionally walked.
Correia has taken the loss in four of his past five decisions.
His adversary in what was an absolute pitchers’ duel through six innings, Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez (11-7, 2.45), gave up one earned run on six hits and struck out nine. His only blemish came courtesy of Dozier, who gave the Twins a 1-0 lead when he smacked a 3-2 curve back up the middle to score Pedro Florimon from second.
It would be Dozier’s final moment of triumph for the night.
Coming in with a .995 fielding percentage, he’d committed just three errors all year. The first of two snafus in three batters helped Detroit (74-52) blow things open in the eighth, as Dozier bobbled a sharp grounder by Hunter that loaded the bases.
Cabrera then sent a three-run double down the left-field line. The major leagues’ top batter had gone 0-for-3 in his previous plate appearances. Fielder came up next and reached on a Dozier throwing error.
“You know that when you start missing plays — especially against teams like this — and aren’t in the right spots, it’s gonna get you,” Gardenhire said.
The teams meet again in a rubber match at 12:08 p.m. Thursday. Minnesota rookie Andrew Albers is slated to start against All-Star Justin Verlander.