Byron Buxton Is the Latest Victim of The Minnesota Postseason Curse
Well, at least they can say they have been successful enough to reach the postseason a bunch of times, making them the envy of a handful of teams throughout the world of sports who have not managed to accomplish that task for the last sixteen years. The fact that the Twins have not won any of those games, unfortunately, has caused the club much embarrassment, a plight that will definitely go on for one more season.
After being swept by the Astros last week in the first round of the baseball playoffs, the Twins have now lost eighteen consecutive postseason games. Those dozen and a half losses have given Minnesota the dubious distinction of such a streak of futility, leaving a legion of North Midwest fans facing disappointment every fall.
Not only have the losses been disappointing, but most of them have been heartbreaking. In addition to a half dozen extra inning games, the streak also includes a dozen when the Twins scored first and blew the lead.
Two of the extra inning losses came at the start of the unenviable streak, back in 2004 against the Oakland Athletics. Game one of the American League Division Series, which Minnesota dropped 5-4, required twelve frames.
Another one run loss, this one a 6-5 setback, took place two days later. This one, too, was tied after nine innings, but the Athletics eventually won it in the eleventh.
In 2006 it was once again Oakland who swept them and, like two year before, the games were tight. The closest of all was the opener which, even after striking first blood, the Twins dropped 3-2.
Three years later Minnesota faced a different opponent in the opening round, but the results were quite similar. In game one the Twins jumped out to 2-0 lead against New York in the third inning, thanks to singles by Orlando Cabrera and Michael Cuddyer around a Joe Mauer double, only to fall 6-3.
Game two, which ended with 4-3 score, saw the Twins load the bases with no outs in the top of the 11th, only to have Delmon Young line out, Carlos Gomez ground out, and Brendan Harris fly out. Minnesota had actually been up 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth, when Alex Rodriquez hit a two-run blast to tie it. They also struck first in game three, when Mauer doubled in Denard Span.
A year later against New York in the A.L.D.S. Minnesota held a 3-0 lead heading into the sixth, when New York put up a four spot. The Bronx Bombers added another pair in the seventh, taking the opener 6-4. Minnesota opened the scoring in game two with a second inning run, but the Yanks ended up with a 5-2 win.
In 2018 against those same Yankees, Minnesota put up three runs before their ace Ervin Santana even stepped on the Target Field mound in the Wild Card game. He promptly yielded three runs before recording the second out, allowing New York to advance with an 8-4 victory.
Last year, once again versus the Yankees, the Twins jumped out ahead 1-0 on a first inning home run from Jorge Polanco. Nine innings later, Minnesota had suffered a 10-4 loss in the opener. There was no such drama in game two, when the Twins fell behind 8-0 en route to yet another loss.
Behind 1-0 in game three the Twins, in true Minnesota postseason fashion, loaded the bases with no outs in the third. Miguel Sano lined out, followed by strikeouts of Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave.
The latest segment of the dubious streak just last week also saw Minnesota blow early leads and several chances to win. They loaded the bases with one out in the first against the Astros, only to have Eddie Rosario pop out and Sano ground weakly to third.
Two innings later they broke the scoreless tie, as Nelson Cruz drove home Kepler. Gonzalez and Luis Arraez both walked to start the fifth, but in typical Minnesota postseason fashion they were left stranded.
In the bottom of the ninth the Twins brought the winning run to the plate, Willians Astudillo. Few fans in St. Paul were surprised when, hacking at the first pitch from Framber Valdez, Astudillo grounded into a game-ending double play.
Game two once again saw the Twins fill the sacks in the first inning, only to have Alex Kirilloff line out. In the eighth Byron Buxton, brought in as a pinch runner who represented the tying run, got picked off of first.
Three outs later the Twins season was halted, so the streak lives on.