Twins can’t generate offense in shutout

Published 4:35 pm Saturday, September 14, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — Adding Kevin Correia was not the kind of offseason move that caused a buzz around baseball or made Minnesota Twins fans buy a bunch of tickets.

The veteran has given the Twins good value, though. Imagine their rotation without the right-hander.

Chris Archer pitched six innings, and the Tampa Bay Rays added to their slim wild-card lead by beating Correia and the Twins 3-0 on Friday night.

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“He gave us an opportunity to win a ballgame, at least stay in the game. We’ll take that from our starters. Unfortunately, offensively we had nothing for him,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

The Rays hold the second wild-card spot with four teams still in striking range. They nudged their edge to 1 1/2 games over Cleveland, due to a loss by New York that pushed the Yankees to two games back. Baltimore (2 1/2 games behind) and Kansas City (3 1/2) are lurking, too.

Archer (9-7) scattered three singles and struck out seven without a walk, following a pair of rough outings for the rookie right-hander to start September. Yunel Escobar had an RBI double among his three hits for the Rays, and Desmond Jennings and James Loney drove in runs with singles against Correia (9-12).

Tampa Bay has won 10 straight games against the Twins, including five this year. The Twins, who struck out 11 times, have lost 15 of their last 18 home games.

“I don’t think there’s one reason. I’m sure it comes down to a multitude of things when you get on streaks like that,” Correia said.

Correia is the only starting pitcher the Twins have under contract for next season, and at $4.5 million the 33-year-old right-hander has at least given the team good value for the deal he signed as a free agent last December. Correia leads the Twins in wins, starts, innings and strikeouts.

“He’s done his job, up to this point. He’s done fantastic for us,” Gardenhire said. “He’s taken the ball and made his pitches when he had to and given us opportunities to win games. It’s a good sign by us. We have him for next year, which is a good thing. We just have to have more performances like that.”

Archer took advantage of the weakened Twins lineup, missing star Joe Mauer and a whole lot more, and never let a runner advance past second base. In the fifth inning, he hit Darin Mastroianni with a pitch to put two on with one out.

But Archer retired Clete Thomas and Eduardo Escobar on called third strikes, skipping off the mound and pumping his arm with a clenched fist on his way to the dugout.

Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney each pitched a scoreless inning in relief, and Rodney recorded his 35th save in 43 tries with a perfect ninth.

Correia left with no outs and two on in the seventh, and reliever Caleb Thielbar escaped with a popped-up bunt.