Twins lose Carlos Correa to injury, game in Detroit

DETROIT — The Twins knew they were facing a tall task with Tigers ace Tarik Skubal on the mound on Friday.

That challenge got even more daunting in the third inning when star shortstop Carlos Correa checked his swing on strike three and immediately started clutching his side and grimacing as he slowly walked back to the first-base dugout.

Correa was immediately removed from the game with a right oblique strain. In addition to losing their shortstop for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time, the Twins also lost the game, falling 8-2 to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park after rain delayed the start of the game by more than an hour.

Manager Rocco Baldelli said after the game that Correa had been sent for imaging and they were awaiting the results, but he said he anticipates Correa being placed on the injured list.

“For something like this to happen, it sucks,” teammate Byron Buxton said. “It’s like a gut punch.”

It’s a particularly tough loss for the Twins as they are mired in a tough offensive start to the season. Much of the lineup is off to a slow start — but not Correa, who had been the team’s most productive hitter thus far.

Now, the Twins will have to navigate without the starting left side of their infield. In addition to Correa, Royce Lewis has been on the injured list since suffering a quad strain on Opening Day. Worsening things is the fact that Brooks Lee, the Twins’ No. 2 prospect and one of the top prospects in baseball, would be a natural replacement for either but remains on the injured list at Triple-A.

“It’s certainly not the easiest road,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to have guys step up and fill voids. I don’t mean just fill voids, but excel in these voids.”

Willi Castro entered the game to replace Correa at shortstop, and the Twins will rely on Castro in large part to play there in Correa’s absence. Kyle Farmer should also see some time there. Both had been playing third with Lewis out.

The Correa-less Twins collected six hits in Friday’s loss, managing two off Skubal in his five innings, neither of which left the infield. The Twins finally scored a run in the ninth inning on doubles from catcher Ryan Jeffers and Farmer, his first hit of the season. Edouard Julien added an RBI single later in the inning.

The Twins played from behind almost the entire night after Mark Canha took a Pablo López pitch at the top of the strike zone and deposited it into the left field stands in the first inning. The Tigers (8-4) tacked on a second run in the fourth inning and three more in the fifth inning, chasing López.

“The No. 1 thing we are told as pitchers is if you put yourselves in good counts, you’re bound to allow yourself to have good success. And they had it very big on the board, first-pitch strikes, and I was below 50 percent, which means I was not doing my job,” López said. “I was not doing what I’m supposed to do, which is get ahead, give myself options, try to force them to swing the bat early.”

After a long layoff — because of two rainouts, López hadn’t pitched since April 4 — the Twins’ ace was lamenting the fact that he wasn’t able to pitch deeper into the game.

And with a doubleheader on tap, things don’t get any easier Saturday for the Twins, who are off to a 4-7 start.

“This is the very beginning of our season. It doesn’t feel good right now,” Baldelli said. “It feels kind of like crap at the moment, but what are we going to do about it? We’re going to show up and work hard and be able to play.”

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