Twins extend playoff losing streak to record 17 games
They haven't won a playoff game since Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS.
We have several fundamental truths in this world. What goes up must come down. Light travels at ~670,616,629 MPH. The Twins lose in the postseason.
The Twins opened up the playoffs on Tuesday afternoon with – what else – a loss, dropping Game 1 of the best-of-three Wild Card Series against the Astros 4-1. They have now lost 17 consecutive postseason games dating back to 2004, a major league record. The previous record was 13 by the Red Sox between 1986 and 1998. Only three other teams got into double-digits, all at 10: The Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves (1958-1991), Royals (1980-1985), and Rangers (1996-2010).
The Twins won Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS against the Yankees before losing the next three. The Twins were then swept out of the next three ALDS by the Athletics once and the Yankees twice. The Yankees beat them again in the 2017 AL Wild Card game and swept them out of last year’s ALDS.
Kenta Maeda drew the start for the Twins opposite Zack Greinke. Maeda was fantastic, limiting the Astros to a pair of hits and three walks while striking out five over five scoreless innings. However, the Astros did make him work, throwing 91 pitches, so Maeda gave way to Trevor May in the sixth. After May tossed a scoreless inning, Tyler Duffey entered to defend the Twins’ 1-0 lead. The Astros put together a two-out rally, tying the game on three consecutive singles from Josh Reddick, Martín Maldonado, and George Springer.
Taylor Rogers kept the Astros off the board in the eighth to send a 1-1 game into the ninth inning. Veteran Sergio Romo took over and the Astros immediately got to him, as Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa reached on back-to-back singles. Romo nearly saw his way out of trouble when Reddick popped up and Maldonado flied out, but a throwing error by shortstop Jorge Polanco on what should have been out number three allowed Springer to reach and load the bases. Romo then walked José Altuve to force in the go-ahead run.
Lefty Caleb Thielbar tried to clean up Romo’s mess but saddled him with the loss instead. Michael Brantley provided two insurance runs for the Astros with a line drive single to center field, making it a 4-1 ballgame. In the bottom half of the ninth, Framber Valdéz completed his fifth inning of relief with another scoreless frame to wrap up the Astros’ win. Greinke went four innings, giving up a run on two hits and three walks with one strikeout. Valdéz allowed a pair of walks and a pair of hits with five strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work.
That the Astros barely had to use their bullpen sets them up well for the remainder of the series. Also good news for the Astros: every member of the lineup reached base at least once, including seven on hits. Altuve went hitless but walked twice; Alex Bregman walked once in an 0-for-4 effort.
I picked the Twins to win the World Series. Can I get a do-over?
Other postseason action on Tuesday:
Lucas Giolito brought a no-hitter into the seventh inning in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series against the Athletics. Tommy La Stella, a midseason acquisition, broke it up with a leadoff single. Giolito would ultimately go seven-plus innings, limiting the A’s to a run on two hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in a 4-1 win. The White Sox scored all four of their runs on homers: a solo shot by Adam Engel, a two-run blast by José Abreu, and a solo dinger by Yasmani Grandal.
Blake Snell was dominant for the Rays against the Blue Jays, tossing 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball, yielding a lone hit and a pair of walks while striking out nine. The Jays’ tandem of Matt Shoemaker and Robbie Ray were also good, going three innings each and combining for one earned run allowed. The Rays got their run on a bases-loaded walk in the fourth and a two-run home run from Manuel Margot in the seventh. Bo Bichette gave the Jays their only run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
The final game on Tuesday’s slate was an absolute blowout after being ticketed as a pitcher’s duel between Shane Bieber — the presumptive AL Cy Young Award winner — and Gerrit Cole. Bieber ended up on the hook for seven runs, unable to escape the fifth inning. The Yankees, in a 12-3 victory, clubbed four homers thanks to Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Brett Gardner, and Giancarlo Stanton. Cole held the Indians to two runs on six hits and no walks while striking out 13. As MLB.com’s Sarah Langs notes, Cole joins Bob Gibson as the only pitchers with multiple 13-plus strikeout games in the postseason. The Yankees looked dead in the water in early September but have completely come alive over the last three weeks. They look scary as hell right now.
Wednesday’s Wild Card Action
The National League will kick off their Wild Card Series while the AL teams head into Game 2. Today’s slate:
12:08 PM EDT: Reds @ Braves
1:08 PM EDT: Astros @ Twins (Astros lead 1-0)
2:08 PM EDT: Marlins @ Cubs
3:10 PM EDT: White Sox @ Athletics (White Sox lead 1-0)
4:07 PM EDT: Blue Jays @ Rays (Rays lead 1-0)
5:08 PM EDT: Cardinals @ Padres
7:08 PM EDT: Yankees @ Indians (Yankees lead 1-0)
10:08 PM EDT: Brewers @ Dodgers
We’re looking at 13-plus hours of wall-to-wall baseball action on Wednesday. If the Twins, Athletics, Blue Jays, and Indians each win on Wednesday, we could be looking at another 13-plus hours of wall-to-wall baseball action on Thursday.