SEATTLE -- Kevin Correia couldn't have teed up a pitch any better than if he had a tee.
His fourth-inning fastball to Mike Zunino was a meatball with extra sauce, and the young catcher smashed it over the left field wall.
This moment was not indicative of how Correia pitched Monday night -- but the result was indicative of how the Minnesota Twins are rolling these days.
That blast from Zunino, and a seventh-inning homer from Michael Saunders that barely cleared the wall in center, were the only runs scored off Correia. Yet the Twins lost 2-0 to the Seattle Mariners, falling a season-high 10 games below .500, as Hisashi Iwakuma extended his dominant run against them.
Iwakuma's pitches dodged, ducked, dipped, dived and dodged Twins bats for seven innings. He gave up four hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts. He has not given up an earned run in 33 2/3 innings against the Twins, a span of five starts. That's just unfair.
"He had his good stuff, kept everything down," said Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe. "He was getting that low pitch and using that to his advantage. Keeping guys off balance with his split. When he's on, he's going to be tough to hit."
Correia (4-11) has been on a decent run of his own, posting a 2.43 ERA over his past six starts. But he is 2-4 over that span. He wasn't super sharp Monday, as only 59 of his 102 pitches were strikes and he threw first pitch strikes to just 16 of the 29 batters he faced. But he put up zeros most of the night.
"He gave up one run early then he matched them all the way through," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Correia.
The visitors have to wonder what would have been if Iwakuma (7-4, 3.07 ERA) had landed with them instead of pitching by Puget Sound.
The Twins were one of the teams bidding on Iwakuma after the 2010 season when he first considered coming over from Japan. Oakland won the bid for his rights that year but failed to get him to agree to terms. So Iwakuma stayed put.
He was available again the next offseason. Twins General Manager Terry Ryan was in touch with Iawkuma's agent, but he was coming off some shoulder problems. He ended up signing with Seattle, and he has done in the Twins ever since.
Still, the Twins had a shot, their only shot, in the seventh. But they came up empty, and Gardenhire was kicking himself afterward.
Kendrys Morales opened the inning with a single and advanced to third on Oswaldo Arcia's double to right-center. But Chris Colabello grounded out to third and Sam Fuld struck out to end the threat.
Gardenhire second-guessed letting the burly Morales run for himself after the single. After Morales went to third on Arcia's gapper, he was replaced by pinch runner Chris Parmelee.
"I'm not sure if Parmelee would have scored on that (Arcia) ball or not," Gardenhire said. "... You have three guys on the bench. You have to use them the best you can. You still have three full innings to play. We talked about it, and if he gets into scoring position then maybe you do it because it's a forced issue. We hit a double, he doesn't score.
"Like I said, I don't know if Parmelee would have scored on that ball, but I'm frustrated because maybe he would have."
(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services