What’s worse for a sports fan than a postseason losing streak of 14 games — and 15 years? You get all pumped up to watch your team in the playoffs, only to see the rug pulled out from under you time and time again.
That’s what Twins fans have been going through, as their 14-game postseason losing streak is now the longest in MLB history, breaking a tie with the 1986-1995 Red Sox. The Yankees have been the Twins’ particular nemesis during the painful stretch, handing Minnesota 11 of the 14 defeats, including their most recent one, Friday night in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
Here’s a game-by-game walk-through of the Twins’ tunnel of misery.
2019 AL Division Series
Game 1 (Oct. 4 at N.Y.) — Yankees 10, Twins 4
The Twins’ record-setting loss featured a franchise postseason-best three home runs, but Jose Berrios and a procession of relievers got pummeled by the Yankees. The big hit? A two-run, bases-loaded Gleyber Torres double in the fifth that broke a 3-3 tie.
2017 Wild-card game
Oct. 3 at N.Y. — Yankees 8, Twins 4
The Twins carried the baggage of a nine-game postseason losing streak to the Yankees (and 12 games overall) into the Bronx. Things started well enough for Minnesota — three runs in the top of the first off Yankees starter Luis Severino, who recorded just one out — but that didn’t last long. New York countered with three runs in the bottom of the first off Ervin Santana, then took the lead for good in the third on Greg Bird’s two-out single off Jose Berrios.
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2010 AL Division Series
Game 3 (Oct. 9 at N.Y.) — Yankees 6, Twins 1
In his only season as an All-Star, New York’s Phil Hughes made his first (and best) postseason start, shutting down his future team on four hits over seven innings to complete the three-game sweep. Swept out of the playoffs by the Yankees for the second straight year, the Twins wouldn’t return to the postseason for seven years.
Game 2 (Oct. 7 at Min.) — Yankees 5, Twins 2
For the eighth straight postseason meeting, the Twins took the lead over the Yankees only to let it slip away. With the game tied at 2 in the bottom of the sixth, a tiring Carl Pavano gave up two runs and didn’t record another out as a Lance Berkman double and a Derek Jeter single put the Yankees on top for good. Minnesota went nine up, nine down over the last three innings.
Game 1 (Oct. 6 at Min.) — Yankees 6, Twins 4
Coming off one of his best seasons with the Twins, Francisco Liriano cruised through five two-hit innings, then hit a wall, coughing up a 3-0 lead. Minnesota tied it on a bases-loaded walk in the sixth, but the Yankees regained the lead in the seventh on a two-run homer by Mark Teixeira. The Twins stranded five runners over the last three innings.
2009 AL Division Series
Game 3 (Oct. 11 at Min.) — Yankees 4, Twins 1
Andy Pettitte and Pavano were engaged in a solid pitchers’ duel before the Twins finally broke through to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth. But as often has been the case in these meetings, the Yankees answered quickly, with Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hitting solo home runs in the seventh. New York tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth before Mariano Rivera sent Minnesota packing.
Game 2 (Oct. 9 at N.Y.) — Yankees 4, Twins 3 (11 inn.)
Perhaps the most painful loss of the bunch. After Hughes got two quick outs in the top of the eighth of a 1-1 game, a walk and single set up Nick Punto to give the Twins the lead with a single, and a Denard Span single off Rivera made it 3-1. But in the bottom of the ninth, Twins closer Joe Nathan gave up a leadoff single to Teixeira and Rodriguez followed with a two-run blast to right-center to tie the game. In the 11th, the Twins loaded the bases with nobody out but squandered the opportunity, then Teixeira put them out of their misery with a laser beam of a walk-off homer off Jose Mijares.
Game 1 (Oct. 7 at N.Y.) — Yankees 7, Twins 2
The 103-win Yankees figured to roll over the 87-win Twins, but Minnesota struck first with two third-inning runs off CC Sabathia. Jeter countered with a two-run homer to tie it in the bottom of the inning, and the Yankees were off and running. The big blow was a two-run homer by Hideki Matsui in the fifth off Liriano.
2006 AL Division Series
Game 3 (Oct. 6 at Oak.) — A’s 8, Twins 3
Facing elimination, the Twins didn’t put up much of a fight as Brad Radke, in his final big league appearance, gave up four runs — Eric Chavez and Milton Bradley went deep — in the first three innings. Minnesota never recovered.
Game 2 (Oct. 4 at Min.) — A’s 5, Twins 2
After Twins starter Boof Bonser held Oakland to two runs over six innings, Minnesota tied it on back-to-back homers by Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau. Then with two outs in the top of the seventh, the A’s Mark Kotsay hit a sinking liner to center and the usually reliable Torii Hunter made an ill-advised dive for the ball, which skipped past him and rolled to the wall. Kotsay, bad back and all, circled the bases for a two-run, inside-the-park home run — and that was that.
Game 1 (Oct. 3 at Min.) — A’s 3, Twins 2
To open the 2006 playoffs, the Twins’ Johan Santana, at the height of his powers in his second Cy Young season, faced off against Oakland lefty Barry Zito, no slouch himself. Santana was touched for two runs in the second inning (Frank Thomas hit a solo homer, Marco Scutaro an RBI double), while Zito allowed only a seventh-inning solo shot to the Twins’ Rondell White that made it 2-1. Both teams scored in the ninth (the A’s on another Thomas homer), but Oakland’s Huston Street got White on a fly out to end it.
2004 AL Division Series
Game 4 (Oct. 9 at Min.) — Yankees 6, Twins 5 (11 Inn.)
This one stung. Facing elimination, Minnesota was cruising with a 5-1 lead (and 96% win expectancy) heading into the eighth inning. But things unraveled quickly for the Twins and reliever Juan Rincon. It went like this: single, wild pitch, walk, run-scoring single, strikeout, three-run homer by Ruben Sierra — tie game. It stayed that way until the top of the 11th, when Rodriguez doubled, stole third and scored on a wild pitch by Kyle Lohse. Meanwhile, Tom Gordon and Rivera combined to retire the last 10 Twins batters in order, and the Yankees celebrated on the Metrodome carpet.
Game 3 (Oct. 8 at Min.) — Yankees 8, Twins 4
Minnesota’s Jacque Jones jumped on Yankees starter Kevin Brown with a solo homer in the bottom of the first. But New York answered with three in the second, then tacked on four more runs in the sixth to win.
Game 2 (Oct. 6 at N.Y.) — Yankees 7, Twins 6 (12 inn.)
The loss that started it all was a serious gut punch for the Twins. After a 2-0 win in Game 1 of the series, Minnesota staged a two-run rally in the eighth inning off Rivera to tie Game 2. In the 12th inning, a Hunter homer off Tanyon Sturtze gave the Twins a 6-5 lead. But Nathan, in his third inning of work, ran out of gas, issuing one-out walks to Miguel Cairo and Jeter before a ground-rule double by A-Rod tied it. J.C. Romero replaced Nathan, who threw 53 pitches, and on Romero’s first pitch, Matsui hit a line drive to right that brought home Jeter with the winning run. Instead of leaving New York with a 2-0 series lead, the Twins were on a road to postseason ruin they wouldn’t be able to exit for 15 years.