Looking back at the last time the Twins won a playoff game
1 month ago
With the postseason set to begin today for all four Wild Card series, the Minnesota Twins will welcome the Toronto Blue Jays for a three-game series as the AL Central-leading squad will face the Jays for the first time in their franchise history in the month of October.
The Twins enter this series on the heels of the wrong side of recent history, as the club has lost their last nine playoff series whether it be in the Wild Card or the division series. Minnesota has been swept (or lost the WC game) in their last six series at the hands of the Houston Astros (2020), New York Yankees (2019, 2017, 2010, 2009), and the Oakland Athletics and last won a playoff game back on October 5th, 2004. The last series the club won was back in 1991 when they won the World Series prior to the Blue Jays taking the 1992 and 1993 championships.
To secure their last postseason win back in 2004, the Twins were facing the Yankees in the ALDS and Minnesota won the first game in the series before dropping their next three to the Bronx Bombers, with the Boston Red Sox eventually winning the championship and ending the curse of the Bambino.
Looking at the last time the Minnesota Twins won a playoff game
Getting the ball for the Twins that day was southpaw Johan Santana, who was one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball that season. The Venezuelan product crafted a 2.61 ERA in the regular season through 228 innings, finishing the year with a league-leading 182 ERA+ and taking home the AL Cy Young Award for his efforts. Opposite Santana for the Yankees was future Hall of Famer Mike Mussina, who posted a 4.59 ERA through the campaign with 132 strikeouts.
In this particular game, both pitchers battled hard and duelled it out for most of the contest. Santana went seven innings while allowing seven hits but didn’t allow an earned run in the contest, keeping the Twins in the game while putting himself in a few tricky situations on his way to 93 pitches. The left-hander finished the day with one walk and five strikeouts before turning over the game to Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan, who closed out the contest for the Twins and earned the save.
Mussina on the other hand allowed two earned runs off of seven hits while walking one batter and striking out seven, eventually becoming the losing pitcher on record when all was said and done. To finish out the game, reliever Tom Gordon and closer Mariano Rivera were brought in to eat up an inning apiece and both got through with clean outings, with Rivera recording a strikeout.
The Twins bats scored two and that’s all that was needed
Leading off for the Twins was former Blue Jays outfielder Shannon Stewart with Jacque Jones and Torii Hunter rounding out the rest of the top three. Hitting cleanup was Canadian Justin Morneau, who was in his second campaign in the big leagues that year, and fellow Canuck Corey Koskie slotting in behind Morneau in the lineup. To round out the order was Lew Ford, Christian Guzman, Michael Cuddyer, and Henry Blanco, with Jason Kubel, Matt LeCroy, Jose Offerman, Luis Rivas, and 1992 World Series MVP Pat Borders on the bench as needed.
|Shannon Stewart LF||4||0||2||1||0||1||4|
|Jacque Jones RF||4||1||1||1||0||1||4|
|Torii Hunter CF||4||0||1||0||0||0||4|
|Justin Morneau 1B||4||0||0||0||0||1||4|
|Corey Koskie 3B||3||0||1||0||1||0||4|
|Lew Ford DH||4||0||0||0||0||2||4|
|Cristian Guzman SS||3||0||0||0||0||1||3|
|Michael Cuddyer 2B||3||1||2||0||0||1||3|
|Luis Rivas 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Henry Blanco C||2||0||0||0||0||1||3|
The Yankees featured some of the top names in all of baseball in their lineup, including Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, and Bernie Williams, with New York looking to win another World Series championship after doing so in 1998, 1999, and 2000.
With the Twins on the road and batting first, Stewart led off the game with a single but Jones, Hunter, and Morneau were unable to produce to start the game. The same happened in the bottom half of the inning for New York, as Jeter started the game with a flyball but Rodriguez singled to get on (followed by a walk to Sheffield). Williams would strike out in his first at-bat and Blanco threw out Rodriguez at third base as he tried to steal the bag in an awkward steal attempt.
Things got a bit intense for the Twins in the second inning, as Santana allowed a single to Jorge Pasada and Matsui to put runners on first and second with zero out. After Ruben Sierra flew out to left field and Posada advanced on an aggressive play to take third base, former Blue Jay John Olerud was at the plate and looking to break open the score with runners on the corners. A flyball to Hunter in centre field got the second out and Posada was sent home to try and give the Yankees the lead, with a bullet of a throw from Hunter coming in clean and Blanco able to secure the tag at home, getting the Yankees catcher out by a step and ending the inning.
The score stayed tied until the top of the third inning when Stewart was back to the plate for the second time around. Cuddyer singled to right field to get on base to start the inning while Blanco dropped a bunt to move him over on the sacrifice and put a runner in scoring position. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Stewart dropped a shallow shot in front of Matsui in left field and Cuddyer was able to score on the play with no throw home. An early 1-0 lead for the Twins.
Fast forward to the top of the sixth inning and Mussina was riding a five-out streak before Jacque Jones added another run on the board via a solo shot to opposite left field with one out, making the score 2-0 (and the last run of the night). Hunter almost added another run after singling right after and stealing second but Ford grounded out to third to end the inning.
Twins looking to snap 18-game playoff losing streak
At the end of the evening, the Yankees were handed a loss in front of 55,000 fans at Yankee Stadium, with the 101-61 New York squad losing to the 92-70 Twins. The Yankees won the next three games and took the series in four.
Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS was the last time the Twins won a playoff game. They’ve been to the playoffs many times since but they’re currently riding an 18-game losing streak. They were swept in 2006 by the Oakland A’s, in 2009, 2010, and 2019 by the Yankees, they lost the 2017 Wild Card game to the Yanks, and they were swept in the first round of the expanded playoffs in 2020 by the Houston Astros.
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