The seemingly never-ending postseason failures of the Minnesota Twins continue as the New York Yankees swept them into the winter abyss with a 5-1 victory Monday night in Minneapolis.
The trio of defeats in the best-of-five American League Divisional Series extends Minnesota's MLB record playoff losing streak to 16 games, with their last postseason victory taking place 5,481 days ago – Oct. 6, 2004, against the Yankees, ironically.
On Monday night, a raucous crowd of more than 41,000 fans packed Target Field, but enthusiasm faded with every scoring chance that was neutered by a combination of batter ineptitude, questionable calls by the umpire, and outstanding New York pitching.
With runners on-base in almost every inning, the Twins never came through with a big hit. A major disappointment for the most powerful team in MLB history, having slugged 307 homers en route to 101 regular-season victories.
- 2nd inning: Based loaded, zero outs – Pop out, strikeout, strikeout
- 3rd inning: Runners at 1st and 2nd, 2 outs – Mitch Garver strikeout.
- 5th inning: Runners at 1st and 2nd, 2 outs – Eddie Rosario ground out.
- 6th inning: Runner on 2nd, 1 out – Miguel Sano line out, Marwin Gonzalez pop out.
- 7th inning: Leadoff single – Max Kepler pop out, Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz ground out.
- 9th inning: Runners on 1st and 2nd, 0 outs – Kepler strikeout, Polanco line out, Cruz strikeout
Trailing 3-0 in the eighth inning, the Twins finally struck on a leadoff homer over the center-field wall by Eddie Rosario to cut the deficit to two. Rosario was 3-for-4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle, but the rest of the lineup combined for just six hits (two from Luis Arraez).
With the crowd back into the game, the Yankees brought in Aroldis Chapman out of the bullpen. The All-Star lefty closer got Arraez to line out to Aaron Judge in right field, then struck out Sano with a 100 mph fastball to send the game to the ninth inning.
Cameron Maybin sent a dagger into Minnesota's heart with a solo home run off Sergio Romero to push the lead back to three at 4-1, and it became 5-1 on Twin killer Didi Gregorius' second RBI single of the night.
Overall, the Twins were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, but no chance was more painful than loading the bases with nobody out in the second inning and putting a big, fat zero on the scoreboard.
Miguel Sano popped out after a lengthy battle with Yankees starter Luis Severino, followed by Gonzalez whiffing at multiple sliders, and Jake Cave ending the inning getting caught looking on a belt-high slider. Ducks were on the pond, but Minnesota had blanks in the gun.
Cave followed suit in top of the third inning by diving for a ball that was way out of his reach, turning Gio Urshela's leadoff single into a double. It proved critical as Urshela scored from third on Brett Gardner's weak, two-out ground ball that beat a shift into left field to put the Yankees up 2-0.
Four teams faced elimination on Monday, but the Twins were the only one sent packing. The Cardinals stayed alive with a Game 4 win over the Braves; the Nationals forced a Game 5 against the Dodgers; the Rays avoided being swept by the Astros.
The Twins are headed for a winter of questions, namely the starting staff as only Jose Berrios and Martin Perez (team option) are under contractual control for 2020. Kyle Gibson, MIchael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi are all unrestricted free agents.