With their 3-1 win over the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series at Target Field on Tuesday, the Twins ended a 19-year streak without a postseason win. Minnesota’s 18 consecutive losses during that span are the longest such streak in MLB history.
Before Tuesday’s win, the Twins had not had a win in six postseason games since beating the Yankees in Game 1 of the 2004 AL Division Series.
The drought was the proverbial elephant in the room during the lead-up to the Twins’ postseason opener this year, but the club didn’t seem bothered by it before finally putting an end to it.
The 23-year-old rookie first baseman in Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS is now the team’s broadcaster and has spent a lot of time around that group. Before the drought-beating victory, he had a strong feeling that these twins would deliver.
“It doesn’t matter to these guys,” said Justin Morneau, who was the 2006 American League MVP and a four-time All-Star during a 14-year major league career.
“The thing that bothers me the most [talk of the drought] It’s that you have to be really good to get to the playoffs. Those were good Twins teams – it’s just that one guy got hurt every year, and it’s a crazy play that can’t be executed. It seemed like all luck worked against them. At some point, it will even out.”
That evening might have started with Minnesota’s win over Toronto on Tuesday. Here’s what to know about the streak and some context to underscore how long it’s been between the Twins’ postseason victories.
– It lasted 6,938 days. During that span (excluding 2004), the Twins reached the postseason in 2006, ’09, ’10, ’17, ’19 and ’20. Five of those games were as AL Central champions (Minnesota was a Wild Card team in 2017).
– Of the 18 postseason losses during the drought, 13 came against the Yankees. The Twins’ foe New York would go on to win the World Series in only one of those years – 2009.
-The Twins had a lead at some point in nine of the 18 losses. Two of the Twins’ three losses to the Yankees in the 2004 ALDS were by one run, both in extra innings.
– The Twins last made a postseason lead during the drought was the 12th inning of Game 2 of the 2004 ALDS, the game immediately following their last playoff win before Tuesday. Minnesota led New York 6-5, before eventually losing on a sacrifice fly by Hideki Matsui after Alex Rodriguez pitched the tying double.
– During the Twins’ 19 years without a postseason win, every other team in the Majors has won at least two playoff games. The team with the most playoff wins during that period is the Astros with 69.
– Minnesota’s drought extended to three managers: Ron Gardenhire (2004-14), Paul Molitor (2015-18) and Rocco Baldelli (2019-23).
Before their win in Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series, here’s what the world looked like when the Twins last won a playoff game:
-George W. Bush was president of the United States
– Facebook, the world’s first major social media platform, was in its first year, and was still called “Facebook.” It was limited to Harvard University and other colleges in the northeastern United States
-The iPhone was still three years away. Flip phones ruled the earth.
The world of baseball looked a little different, too:
-The twins were still playing at the Metrodome.
– The Phillies had just completed their first season at Citizens Bank Park.
-The Astros will remain in the National League for eight more years.
– Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was a 22-year-old center fielder with the Rays.
– Twins great outfielder Joe Mauer was a 21-year-old rookie.
— Royce Lewis, who was Minnesota’s hero in Game 1 with a pair of home runs, was 5 years old.
The box score from Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS made us remember some players.
— The Twins’ starter in that game was Johan Santana, who pitched seven scoreless innings in the 2-0 win. His counterpart was Mike Mussina. Mariano Rivera got involved in the game, as did Joe Nathan, who made a save.
– Notable names in the Minnesota squad: Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau, Jack Jones, Shannon Stewart, Corey Koski.
– Notable names in the New York squad: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, Ruben Sierra, John Olerud.
It’s been a long time coming, but the Twins have finally put their winless streak in the playoffs to rest. Next on your list of droughts to catch? The biggest one. Can Minnesota win its first World Series title since 1991?
Morneau certainly thinks so.
“The concern of this team is to win more than one game,” he said. “They are talking about winning a World Series and I think this is the deepest Twins team has been in the postseason in a while, and they are capable of doing that.”
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