Baseball / Sports

Improving Kevin Correia pitches Twins to 9-3 win over Rockies

DENVER -- Questions have been asked about Kevin Correia throughout the first half of the Twins' season.

When he had an ERA over 6.00 during the first six weeks of the season, Correia replied, "I'm not above the law," when asked about losing his spot in the Twins rotation.

Nearly two months later, Correia is churning out quality starts, his ERA is tumbling and teams in need of pitching might call and ask, "Is Correia above being traded?"

He was at it again Saturday, battling his way through the Rockies lineup and leading the Twins to a 9-3 victory at Coors Field. The Twins raced out to a 4-0 lead -- with Correia contributing an RBI double -- and poured it on late with five runs over the final two innings. They have clinched a winning road trip and, with Phil Hughes on the mound Sunday, can head into the All-Star break with a 5-2 record on the trip with a victory.

Correia (5-11) held Colorado to one run over six innings on seven hits and a walk with one strikeout. Over his past seven starts he has posted a 2.30 ERA. Over his past 11 starts, it's 3.22.

On May 14, Correia's ERA was 6.80. Now it's 4.61.

"He threw the ball really well," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

That's what some scouts might tell their clubs, too. The Yankees and Blue Jays, two teams believed to be looking for pitching, were in attendance Saturday.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan has not officially said the Twins will be sellers before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, but he has indicated that the club has not convinced him of being a buyer. Veterans such as Correia could be coveted by contenders before the deadline. And Correia said a player is always aware of what could happen.

"This is my 12th major league season," Correia said. "I've never been traded. So I don't concern myself with it. You see other guys traded constantly. At this point in my career I don't worry about it too much. But it's always on the back burner. You never know what's going to happen.

"I like it here. I've always said that. But it's a business and I'm aware of that."

Correia got early support from the Twins offense, as Kendrys Morales delivered a two-run double in the first inning off lefthander Tyler Matzek (1-4), drawing a roar from the few thousand Twins fans among the announced attendance of 35,930.

Eduardo Escobar homered in the third inning for a 3-0 lead. And with two out and Josh Willingham on third, Correia smacked a double to left to put the Twins up 4-0. It was the first double by a Twins pitcher since Scott Baker on May 21, 2011.

Correia's outing was boosted by Brian Dozier, who threw out Charlie Blackmon at home to end the third. Dozier fielded Justin Morneau's single in the grass behind second and made a jump-throw to home.

"I had no idea where he was throwing the ball when he let it go," Gardenhire said. "It turned out right at home."

Correia then got NL MVP candidate Troy Tulowitzki to hit into a double play to escape a fifth-inning jam. Another thing scouts will like about Correia: He's 3-3 with a tidy 3.35 ERA in high-altitude Coors Field.

"I'm pretty comfortable pitching in this park," he said. "I've thrown a lot here. This is where I made my major league debut (in 2003), so I was hoping to go out there and get a win."

(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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