Twins righthander Kevin Correia didn’t pitch that bad on Friday. The matchup was just a bad one.
The Twins are facing a Rays team with considerable talent on the mound, and it’s likely to be a weekend with little room for error. A missed play here, a called third strike there won’t do against a team in the pennant race.
And Tampa Bay, behind the pitching of long-shot Rookie of the Year candidate Chris Archer, eased past the Twins 3-0 at Target Field on Friday, the 12th time the Twins have been shut out this year and their 10th consecutive loss to the Rays, going back to April 2012.
Correia (9-12) has pitched at least six innings 21 times this season, and Friday marked the 16th time he notched a quality start — pitching at least six innings, giving up three or fewer runs. He wasn’t the problem Friday.
“That’s my job,” Correia said. “To keep us in the game and give us an opportunity to win.”
Archer, with a lively fastball, overpowered the Twins for six shutout innings, holding them to three hits while striking out seven. In 15 innings against the Twins this year, Archer (9-7) has given up only one unearned run.
“Correia did a nice job for us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, “but their guy was better.”
That might not be the only time Gardenhire says that this weekend, as lefthanders Matt Moore and David Price are lined up for the next two games. Tampa Bay might be the only club that can throw a 15-game winner (Moore) and the defending Cy Young Award winner (Price) on successive nights.
“They have been dominant with starting pitching for all these years,” Gardenhire said. “It’s like they have a mold and they keep bringing them out of this mold.”
It will continue Saturday with Moore, an All-Star who missed a month because of a sore elbow but has picked up where he left off. He is 8-1 with a 2.88 ERA on the road this season and has won seven consecutive decisions going back to June 20.
Sunday, they will face Price, who has been inconsistent and threw a career-high 127 pitches in his last outing Tuesday. But he is 2-2 with a 2.62 ERA in his career against the Twins … and this is a Twins team reeling and looking at September callups.
Tampa Bay opened the scoring Friday in the second inning. With two out, Wil Myers lined a ball to right field that Clete Thomas first misjudged, then had the ball pop out of his glove. Myers was given a double on a play that could have been scored an error. On the next pitch, Desmond Jennings floated an RBI single to center.
Tampa Bay added a run in the second when Yunel Escobar doubled and scored on James Loney’s two-out single. Back-to-back doubles by Jose Molina and Escobar in the seventh made it 3-0.
The Twins had two runners on and one out in the fifth but Thomas and Eduardo Escobar took called third strikes to end the Twins’ best scoring threat.
“You have to defend the plate,” Gardenhire said. “You get two strikes, swing. ‘That ball was a little low.’ No, that ball was too close to take.’’