Correa's timely hit pushes Twins past Padres

May 11th, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS -- Well, they aren’t booing Carlos Correa anymore.

Slowly but surely, the clutch at-bats are starting to come for the Twins -- and on Thursday afternoon, they finally got that big hit from the superstar shortstop who really needed one. Correa’s go-ahead two-run double off reliever Steven Wilson in the seventh capped a three-run frame that sent the Twins to a come-from-behind 5-3 win and a series victory over the talent-laden Padres at Target Field.

“They all feel good, but these ones feel extra special,” Correa said. “Build on that, keep with the same routine in the cage. I’ve been feeling really good at the plate -- so, yeah, just keep going.”

The Twins loaded the bases that inning after Joey Gallo’s one-out single, Ryan Jeffers’ hit-by-pitch and a walk by Byron Buxton, and they nearly failed to capitalize when Max Kepler hit what appeared to be a double-play grounder -- but second baseman Rougned Odor made an errant throw to first to bring home the tying run and extend the frame for Minnesota.

That brought up Correa, who received a chorus of boos from his home crowd on Tuesday due to his extended season-opening slump -- and said after the game that he’d have booed himself, too. This time, he pulled a grounder down the left-field line at 102.5 mph, bringing home both Jeffers and pinch-runner Michael A. Taylor for the game’s decisive runs.

“That’s just a big moment,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It goes from a losing effort to a winning effort because we fight, we get some baserunners on there, have good at-bats, but it does take that swing sometimes. And it’s just a good swing. That’s what you’re looking for and that was really, really big for us.”

Correa hadn’t been pulling the ball with much authority before he made a mechanical adjustment at the start of the Twins’ last road trip, which quieted the extra movements in his swing to help him be more on time to the ball. He has emphasized that he feels much more comfortable at the plate -- and that translated to the field at a big time, as Minnesota's scuffling offense finally found more consistent plate appearances to fuel this victory.

Seventeen of Correa’s last 28 batted balls have now qualified as hard-hit (with an exit velocity in excess of 95 mph) since he made that adjustment ahead of the Twins’ road series at the White Sox last week -- a sign that the results should continue to follow.

“Soft contact the other way is not working, so we’ve got to pull the ball hard. And I’m getting better results with that,” Correa said.

The big inning helped erase the deficit created by a pair of solo homers and a Juan Soto RBI double against Bailey Ober, who continued his successful return to the rotation by allowing three runs in six innings -- helped by a sensational diving catch from Nick Gordon to prevent a run from scoring in the fifth.

“You don’t know what’s to come, but I wouldn’t be surprised if [Correa] gets rolling and never looks back,” Baldelli said. “He’s done that many times in his career, and I think he looks good right now, I really do.”