The Minnesota Twins finally broke their playoff losing streak that made history among America’s four professional sports leagues.
Since 2004, the Twins hadn’t won a single postseason contest, going 0-18, the worst playoff losing streak in American sports.
But that streak came to and end Tuesday night after the Twins defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-1, to take Game 1 of a best-of-three AL Wild Card Series.
The Twins’ last taste of postseason victory came Oct. 5, 2004, when they defeated the New York Yankees to begin the American League Division Series. The Yankees won the next three games, wiping out the Twins.
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From there, losses came consecutively in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2017 and 2020 in various series totaling 15 games on top of the three straight losses to the Yankees.
But the Twins, who won the AL Central this season at 87-75, used their home-field advantage to halt the skid.
Much of that had to do with rookie Royce Lewis, the 24-year-old third baseman who blasted two homers in his first two playoff at-bats off Kevin Gausman to give the Twins the three runs needed to come away with the win.
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Lewis was in the batter’s box with a 3-2 count and a runner on first base in the bottom of the first inning when Gausman delivered a fastball inside at 97 miles per hour that didn’t overpower the right-hander. He turned quickly and launched it over the left field fence for a 2-0 lead. It marked the first homer of the MLB postseason this year.
Then, in the bottom of the third inning, Gausman caught too much plate with another fastball that Lewis made him pay for. This time, the ball sailed over the right-center fence.
Lewis played only 58 regular-season games for the Twins this year, but he made the most of them. He hit .309/.372/.548 with 15 homers and 52 RBIs, prompting Minnesota to keep him in the playoff lineup. The pressure the postseason brings didn’t seem to faze Lewis.
With the runs the Twins needed, starter Pablo Lopez got to work. He went 5⅔ innings against a tough Blue Jays lineup, allowing just one earned run on five hits and two walks while striking out three.
Minnesota’s bullpen was also rock solid, with Louie Varland, Caleb Thielbar, Griffin Jax and closer Jhoan Duran allowing one hit over 3⅓ innings.
Duran came in for the top of the ninth for the save, striking out Kevin Kiermaier and Matt Chapman.
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The Jays’ Jose Berrios faces Sonny Gray of the Twins in Game 2 tomorrow at Target Field in Minneapolis.
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