'It's that much better': Correa's 2-HR game adds to sizzling stretch

June 17th, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS -- played coy when asked earlier this week about what approach changes have helped him put together this torrid stretch -- but at this point, it feels like he really should share, because whatever is propelling this hot of a run might very well help solve some of the other troubles of our age.

The self-described best stretch of Correa’s career raced on with two more homers as part of another three-hit Game 1 on Sunday, when a two-run blast in the first inning set the tone for the Twins’ 6-2 victory in the first game of a split doubleheader against the A’s at Target Field -- and he added a third-deck blast in the fourth inning for some emphasis.

He did slow down in the Twins’ 8-7 Game 2 victory, but only barely, as he notched two more singles for his eighth multihit game in his last 11 appearances -- a stretch that has also featured four three-hit games and the first five-hit game of his career.

“My mom [and I], we watched him every day growing up,” Royce Lewis said. “We thought he was the best shortstop ever, and when she came, finally, to see him, she said, ‘It's way different in person. It's that much better.’”

Indeed, because Correa is putting on a show unlike many seen in Twins history. Across his past 11 games, Correa is 24-for-47 (.511), making him the first Twins player since Delmon Young at the end of July 2010 to record at least 24 hits in an 11-game span. He’s now one of nine players in team history to record at least 24 hits in any 11-game stretch.

“He is a great player all the time, but you’re watching him do things that, just -- when you see guys do things you don’t see every day, that’s what is the separator,” manager Rocco Baldelli said on Friday.

Correa went back to back with Lewis in the first inning -- a continuation of Lewis’ all-around tear of a season -- before Carlos Santana also added a two-run blast in the seventh to back a strong Bailey Ober, who allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings to prime the Minnesota pitching staff for success in the doubleheader caused by Saturday’s rainout.

But this red-hot stretch has also evolved over the course of 10 games.

Early on, much of the action came on singles, with 17 of the 22 hits in this stretch being one-baggers -- reminiscent of an old teammate who Correa said gave him some tips earlier this year -- as he simplified to raise his season batting average from .247 to .308.

“I have to call [Luis] Arraez today,” Correa said on Thursday. “He gave me good pointers going into the season, and I’ve been doing them. He’s the man. He knows what he’s doing.”

Now, Correa is adding the power element, too. He will point to his ability simply to react to pitches as they come and still hit the ball on the barrel -- and it’s just that he’s elevating some more of them in these recent games, with better pitches to hit now that Lewis is in the lineup behind him.

“You know you’re getting pitched to,” Correa said. “He’s a guy that will go deep at some point in that game, so you don’t want to have people on base when he’s hitting. It’s great having that protection.”

And frankly, the person who seems least impressed by this crazy stretch seems to be the man himself.

“It’s the same if I go 0-for-4,” Correa said. “I try my best every day. I put in the work every day, as you guys know. I’m working on my craft and trying to get better every single day. Whatever happens on the field is just results. I believe in the process more than the results.”

That consistency in the process is what everyone around Correa in the clubhouse points to, whether it’s with his relentlessly steady defense, the constant work on his swing or even in the care for his teammates -- evident in how he stopped celebrating his homer to immediately whisper words of guidance in Lewis’ ear before Lewis went to the plate.

Combine that consistency with a healthy Correa and the Twins sure aren’t surprised to see any of this.

“He plays shortstop more consistently than I brush my teeth,” Baldelli said. “He does the difficult things way better than I do the easy things. That’s the way he is with everything. … We saw him two years ago, [in the] second half, where he was just on fire. Kind of like he is right now. That’s really what it looks like.”