The baseball wasn’t 20 feet out of Kevin Correia’s hand when he knew. It was a slider, intended to fade down and away from Dayan Viciedo, but that’s not where it was headed, not even close.
“I missed by four feet on that pitch,” the Twins’ righthander said after absorbing a 4-2 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday. “It was kind of a get-me-over slider, [but] I threw it up and in. … It was just one of those where you throw it to the exact spot where he swings.”
And it winds up in the exact spot where someone with a $15 cheap seat is sitting, 425 feet or so from home plate. “I didn’t even look at that one. Right when [Viciedo] hit it, I knew,” Correia said. “I don’t even know — where did it end up? Third deck? Nice. … It still only counts as one run.”
Correia could shrug off the mistake, even one that ended up where only Corey Hart, Nelson Cruz and Jose Bautista have reached as a visitor, because he made so few of them Tuesday. Only problem: Jake Peavy, the former Cy Young winner who appears to have found that award-winning form once more, made even fewer.
“We basically ran into a hot pitcher tonight,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Peavy was really good. … He pretty much shut us down.”
But his own pitcher did much the same. After two shaky five-inning starts to open May, Correia reverted to the inning-eating warrior he had been in April, lasting into the eighth inning and “really giving us a great opportunity to win,” Gardenhire said. “It was nice to see a pitcher go out there and get into the eighth inning. Unfortunately he got a couple balls up real quick and they jumped him quick.”
The “they” in this case was Dewayne Wise and Tyler Flowers, a journeyman outfielder and a catcher with a .203 lifetime average. Not exactly the heart of Chicago’s order, but that’s baseball. Wise led off the eighth by jumping on a splitter that surprised Correia by splitting the right-center gap for a double. Flowers jumped on a 3-1 fastball and knocked it down the left-field line, breaking a 2-2 tie and finishing Correia’s night.
“I thought I threw a decent pitch” that Flowers hit, Correia said. “They may have been on to my pattern at that point.”
The pattern that gives the Twins hope is Correia’s ability to get to the eighth inning at all; he’s still the only starter to throw a pitch in the eighth this season, and he’s done it three times now.
“We’ve been waiting for that. We’ve been taking guys out in the sixth inning enough,” Gardenhire said. “He gave us a great opportunity — 2-2 ballgame going into the eighth inning, that’s pretty damn good.”
So was the defense behind him; shortstop Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier turned four double plays to help Correia avoid trouble. They couldn’t do anything about the back-to-back home runs in the second inning, Adam Dunn’s 410-foot shot into the bullpen that must have felt like revenge for the one that Aaron Hicks’ leaping catch stole from him the night before, and Viciedo’s guided missile into a distant land. He was charged with a fourth run, too, when Alexei Ramirez singled home Flowers after Correia departed.
The Twins could muster little off Peavy, though. Their first run came courtesy of a blown call by home plate umpire Jordan Baker, who didn’t notice Flowers tag Justin Morneau as he slid by. Josh Willingham’s first extra-base hit in a week, a seventh-inning double off Peavy, produced the only other run when Trevor Plouffe singled him home.