BOSTON – Kevin Correia’s problems, it seems, are simple enough to fix. He is just in the wrong division.
For the third time in four starts, Correia took the mound in an American League East ballpark, normally graveyards for Twins pitching, and gave up virtually nothing to the opposing lineup. This time, it was Fenway Park, where the veteran righthander shut down the Red Sox on only five hits over six innings and gave up only one harmless run.
Wait, not harmless — harmful. Like his one-run outing in Yankee Stadium two weeks ago, Correia’s effectiveness couldn’t deliver a victory, and Boston eked out a 1-0 victory, only the fifth time that’s ever happened to the Twins in Fenway. Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa outdueled Correia, giving up only a Danny Santana single in seven innings, and the Twins lost for the third consecutive day.
Using a fastball that sometimes registered 96 miles per hour and a changeup that had the Twins lunging, De La Rosa shook off some early control problems — three walks in the first three innings, or one fewer than his total during his three previous starts — and retired the final 13 hitters he faced.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy throw 99 mph, but throw more offspeed than he does fastballs,” Brian Dozier said. “We knew that coming in — he loves his changeup.”
But even being one-hit, the Twins had scoring opportunities. Back-to-back walks in the first inning were promising, but a Josh Willingham double play scotched that rally. And Santana’s third-inning single moved Sam Fuld, who had walked, to third base, but the rookie shortstop got caught between first and second base. When Santana got hung up, Fuld broke for the plate, and was tagged out by the time the rundown ended.
“Danny just screwed up,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He thought the ball was high, is what he told us, and was missing the cutoff man. That’s why he kept going. … That happens, but it was a big play.”
It was, because the Twins never touched De La Rosa again. One the righthander was lifted after seven, the Twins loaded the bases against relievers Andrew Miller and Burke Badenhop, but Dozier struck out on a diving slider to strand three.
“I got down 0-2 quick, which wasn’t good,” Dozier said. “[Badenhop] made really good pitches — nothing was over the plate. He just doubled up on a slider on the black, and I foul tipped it” for strike three.
Dozier reached a Twins milestone earlier in the game, stealing second base in the first inning, his 15th of the season. That made him the 12th Twins player ever to post 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases in the same season, and the first since Torii Hunter in 2007. And it’s only June 16.
But milestones couldn’t disguise the fact that Monday felt like such a waste for the Twins, who received another strong start from Correia in an AL East ballpark. “It’s weird,” Correia said of his 1.00 ERA in starts at New York, Toronto and Boston, all in a span of 18 days. “I wouldn’t want to say, ‘Oh, the AL East is a great division to go pitch in. It’s not. … Baseball’s just weird like that.”
Correia, a San Diego native, was pitching on a sorrowful day, having learned of the death of his childhood hero that morning.
“Tony Gwynn was one of my heroes growing up, one of my favorites players of all time,” said the righthander, who was also a teammate for two seasons with Tony Gwynn Jr. with the Padres. “I grew up watching him, going to so many games, and he was Mr. San Diego. He was baseball in San Diego. It’s such a great family, my heart goes out to them.”