Twins, Correia escape jams to shut out Toronto

Twins pitcher’s fielding gem leads to sterling start.

– Brett Lawrie singled. So did Dioner Navarro. Then one out later, Anthony Gose — the ninth-place batter hitting .229 — drew a walk to load the bases in the second inning Tuesday night.

Kevin Correia was in a jam, again. The way his season has been going, a crooked-number inning seemed like a lock.

But Correia escaped with a little nifty glovework, then carved out a much-needed strong outing as the Twins beat Toronto 4-0. The victory was Correia’s first since May 20 at San Diego, and it quieted some of the speculation about his future in the rotation.

With the bases loaded in the second inning and Jose Reyes at the plate, Correia (3-7) threw a curveball that Reyes grounded back up the middle. Correia was in his follow-through but stuck his glove behind his back and had the ball smack right into it.

It was a glove save, and a beauty.

“I kind of didn’t realize it went in my glove right away,” Correia said. “I turned around and looked at second and waited to see the ball go by me and it was in my glove.”

He threw home to force Lawrie for the second out but had no chance of getting the speedy Reyes at first.

“If he had thrown it [home] a little harder, we could have had a double play,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joked. “So I can still criticize.”

Melky Cabrera tapped to first base to end the threat.

Correia has failed to strand runners on base as he has done in the past. Last year, he left 76.1 percent of baserunners against him on base. This year, that number has dropped to 60.3 percent. He has believed all along that things would turn around and that his pitching hadn’t deteriorated. Maybe Tuesday’s game started the turnaround.

To be clear, Gardenhire has not dropped any hints that Correia was in trouble of leaving the rotation.

“I think that has a lot to do with him being at the game,” Correia said. “He’s not showing up and looking at the boxscore and going, ‘Yeah, you stink.’ He sees how close it is in comparison to how I was throwing the ball last year.

“If I was going out there and just tanking it, I’m sure [leaving the rotation] would have happened if you go just on numbers. If you’ve been at games, it’s been awfully close.”

Correia retired the next 11 batters he faced after getting through the second. In six innings, Correia gave up six hits and walked one with one strikeout. It was Correia’s first scoreless outing this season. Toronto has been shut out in three of its past four games.

The Twins gave Correia early run support when Brian Dozier blasted a two-run homer, his second first-inning home run in two nights. They added on in the fourth when Danny Santana hit a slow bouncer to third that he beat out for a hit, but Juan Francisco made a wild, ill-advised throw to first and two runs scored to make it 4-0.

That was enough for Correia to take the game into the late innings. Brian Duensing, Jared Burton and Glen Perkins finished up.

Correia believed the results had to change, but he’s also realistic.

“You go out there and it doesn’t turn around and you are gone,” he said, “but I was expecting it because of the way I feel. I feel strong and comfortable with all my pitches. I feel like everything is where it needs to be to be successful.”

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