Righthander Kevin Correia signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Twins in December, and the move was met by many with a collective “meh.”
He doesn’t miss bats. He has a losing career record. And he just wasn’t one of the sexy names out on the free-agent market during the offseason.
But three starts into his first season with the Twins, and in the American League, he has been the most reliable player on the roster. He led the Twins to a 8-2 victory over the Angels on Monday to open a three-game series at Target Field.
He shook off solo home runs by Peter Bourjos and Brendan Harris and handled the more dangerous names in the Los Angeles lineup to help end the Twins five-game losing streak.
Bourjos, whose first career homer was against the Twins in 2010, started things off by hitting a 2-2 pitch from Correia 413 feet to left to open the scoring. It could have been the start of short night at the park.
“Who you got next? You’ve got [Mike] Trout, you’ve got [Albert] Pujols, you’ve got [Josh] Hamilton,” Correia said. “It’s not a good time to start feeling sorry for yourself with those guys coming up. You’ve really got to refocus and try to leave it at that one run.”
Correia went through Trout, Pujols and Hamilton to get out of the first. By the time he left after seven innings, he had held the Angels to two runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out five. He has pitched at least seven innings in all three of his starts.
“Kevin threw the heck out the ball, again,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Got us deep in the game.”
The Twins came back with a run in the first after Bourjos’ home run. After Harris went deep in the third, the Twins came back with a run in the bottom of that inning two.
Correia stayed out of trouble and the Twins kept pouring it on.
Trevor Plouffe lined a home run to left on the first pitch his saw in the fourth inning. Joe Mauer — who was 4-for-4 on the night — cranked a 1-0 pitch from Angels starter Jeff Blanton over the left field wall in the fifth, giving the Twins a 4-2 lead. And, while facing lefthanded reliever Michael Roth in the sixth, Mauer grounded an RBI single to right to put the Twins ahead 5-2.
Correia avoided trouble with one out in the seventh when outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, making his major league debut, dropped a fly ball for an error. Correia struck out Luis Jimenez then struck out Bourjos to end the inning. Fans jumped to the feet as Correia walked to the dugout, bumping fists with teammates.
Correia sounded as he likes life in the American League. He had three starts of seven innings all of last year while with Pittsburgh.
“I think it’s an opportunity in the American League, where you can go out there and see how long you can pitch,” Correia said. “In the National League, I might have been out of the game a lot earlier in all three starts for pinch-hit purposes. It’s nice to be able to go out there and get seven.”