Hours later, Minnesota left Baltimore concerned about the health of the team’s superstar shortstop.
Carlos Correa was removed in the seventh inning after being hit by pitches in consecutive plate appearances and is scheduled to undergo a CT scan on his right middle finger Friday. The Twins announced after the game that preliminary imaging done at the ballpark revealed the potential for a non-displaced fracture of the right middle finger.
If Friday's diagnosis does indeed reveal a non-displaced injury, it likely wouldn't require surgery.
“He was down there with the trainers running some tests, trying to squeeze his hand, and he was in a lot of pain,” said bench coach Jayce Tingler, who assumed the managerial duties in Baldelli's absence. “Tomorrow, we should have more information.”
In the fifth, a Spenser Watkins fastball glanced off Correa’s left wrist and ricocheted to his right shoulder. Two innings later, Correa was hit on his right hand while swinging at a Bryan Baker changeup. The ball ended up in fair territory, resulting in an easy groundout. Correa was lifted the following half-inning for a defensive replacement, and the O’s homered twice off Jhoan Duran in the eighth to salvage a series split.
Correa was unavailable to comment after the game, and the Twins’ clubhouse was closed to the media in response to the COVID outbreak. Tingler spoke of Correa’s condition to reporters via Zoom.
“Watkins has a little run on his fastball, and he was starting his cutters front-hip,” Tingler said. “As we got into their bullpen, they have really good arms, and the ball is moving a couple different directions.”
It was an inauspicious ending to a night when Minnesota received a 452-foot homer from Byron Buxton, and to a road trip that Correa spent turning his season around.
Correa got off to a slow start after joining the Twins via his splashy three-year, $105.3 million free-agent deal in Spring Training, hitting .167 with one homer over his first 16 games with his new club. But he caught fire recently, going 14-for-34 (.412) with a homer, eight RBIs and six runs scored in his last eight games, despite going hitless on Thursday.
Correa did make an impact with his glove, ranging 80 feet behind him to acrobatically reel in Trey Mancini’s looper in the third. Correa left his feet and ended up well into the left-field gap to make the play behind Chris Archer, who struck out six over four innings of two-run ball.
Caleb Thielbar allowed Jorge Mateo’s tying homer in the fifth, and Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle went back-to-back off Duran three innings later to provide the final margin.
“I thought, overall, we competed well and played hard,” Tingler said.
The Twins surged into first place on this road trip, leveraging a string of strong starts, Correa’s warming bat and Buxton’s torrid start to take two of three from the Rays and split the four games with the Orioles. But it was a costly trip.
Minnesota lost Miguel Sanó this week to knee surgery and still have three starting pitchers sidelined with injuries. COVID-19 protocol requires them to be without Baldelli, righty Dylan Bundy, another starter, and infielder Luis Arraez, their leading hitter, for at least a few more days and likely longer.
The possibility of losing Correa for any period of time loomed over their return to Minnesota, where the Twins will begin a nine-game homestand starting with Friday’s series opener against the A’s at Target Field.
“I still think it’s a positive trip,” Tingler said. “We came out of there with a winning record … we were gunning for the one today, we wanted to win this series. That being said, we’re excited to get back home to Minnesota and our home crowd. We’re going to get on the plane and regroup, show up to the field a little bit later and get ready to go and take on Oakland.”