5 Twins Postseasons that left us wanting more

Only one team leaves the postseason with a trophy, but some hurt more than others

Lindsey Peterson
October 08, 2019 - 8:02 am

© David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

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Every postseason that doesn’t end with trophies and rings tends to disappoint.  Only one team leaves the playoffs happy.  But some really sting. 

First, we are big Twins fans.  2019 was a blast.  Bombas, records galore, and 101 wins?  Nobody is ever going to argue with that.  Rocco’s bunch played great ball all year, only to run into an old friend in the playoffs.  Again. 

Sadly, the Twins lost to the Yankees.  That’s now 8 straight series lost in the postseason since beating Oakland in the 2002 ALDS.  And a major sports record (tying the Blackhawks of the late 70’s) with 16 straight postseason losses.  Seriously. 

RELATED: Get full coverage of the Twins and Yankees here.

So, as the 2019 season is over for Twins fans, let’s reflect back on what was still a fun and unexpected run to the ALDS.  Here is our ranking of five postseason trips that left us wanting more.

#5- 1969, lost ALCS 3-0 to Baltimore
This one falls in at 5th for a couple of reasons, the biggest reason because the Orioles were really good.  Baltimore, behind great pitching (Palmer, McNally, Cuellar), won 109 games and ran away with the AL East in 1969.  How disappointed can you be losing to a team that won 109 games?

The Twins were also very good, winners of 97 games and taking the AL West by 9 over Oakland.  Killebrew hit 49 home runs.  Carew hit .332.  The pitchers were led by Perry, Boswell, and Kaat. 

But the ALCS was heartbreaking for a team that had the talent to stay with the Orioles. 

The Twins took the lead in the 7th inning on a Tony Oliva 2-run homer.  But, Baltimore first baseman Boog Powell took Twins started Jim Perry deep in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game.  The Orioles got the winning run in the 12th inning.

Game 2 was another classic.  Baltimore pitcher Dave McNally outdueled the Twins’ Dave Boswell for a 1-0 Oriole victory in 11 innings.  Boswell pitched 10 2/3 before giving way to Ron Perranoski who gave up a 2-out hit to Curt Motton and the Orioles were up 2-0 in the series. 

McNally, by the way, went all 11 innings giving up only 3 hits.  Not exactly like we do it in 2019. 

Game 3 was back home at Met Stadium and the Orioles pounced early and often, while Jim Palmer shut down the Twins for an 11-2 victory, and a sweep. 

The Orioles would go on to be shocked by the “Miracle Mets” in the World Series.  The Twins went into the offseason following a quick playoff exit.  Twins fans certainly had their sights set on the World Series but it wasn’t to be. 

The two teams would meet again in 1970 in the ALCS.  Again, Baltimore won, this time easily dispatching the Twins 10-6, 11-3 and 6-1.  Minnesota wouldn’t make the postseason again until 1987. 

#4- 2019, lost ALDS 3-0 to New York
This was the best Twins team since the ’91 World Series (perhaps the ’92 team that fell just short of Oakland in the AL West). 

While it’s very fresh and probably feels more disappointing than it should (or will be a few years down the road), it definitely left us wanting more! 

Yes, this was a special Twins team.  No MLB team in history hit more home runs.  The Twins exceeded all preseason expectations and held off a red-hot Cleveland team in the season’s second half to win the Central for the first time since 2010 (a season we’ll get to soon). 

But, there were issues going into the series against the Yankees that should have kept expectations a little lower. 

First, starting pitching was not a strength of the Twins the last part of the season.  And that’s an issue that is very difficult to overcome in the postseason, especially a short series.  After Berrios and Odorizzi, the Twins didn’t have an effective starter available.  Michael Pineda was suspended in early September for 60 games, testing positive for a banned substance.  Kyle Gibson struggled mightily down the stretch and wasn’t completely healthy.  Randy Dobnak, who ended up starting 5 games late in the year became the default #3 starter for the team and really struggled in Game 2. 

As we saw over these games, the Twins pitchers were overmatched by the Yankees.  Only Jake Odorizzi gave the Twins anything close to a quality start. 

Could this have been a year the Twins bombed their way to postseason success?  It didn’t happen, but most Twins fans thought it could be done.  Certainly, the series against New York would be about who could score more (the teams both shattered the record set just last season for home runs).  The Twins had proven all year they could outscore teams. 

But, the pitching just wasn’t enough to keep them in games against New York. 

Berrios was decent in Game 1.  The Yankees got some defensive lapses from the Twins in to win 10-4.  Then got a grand slam and a great start by Masahiro Tanaka to win game 2 easily, besting Randy Dobnak 8-2. 

Game 3 was back at Target Field and it was a tight game until late.  Jake Odorizzi pitched 5 innings giving up 2 runs.  But the offense couldn’t get a big hit.  The Twins loaded the bases in the 2nd inning with nobody out.  And couldn’t get anyone across. 

Eddie Rosario gave the Twins a jolt with a home run in the 8th inning, but the Yankees quickly answered with runs in the top of the 9th.  Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman got the last five outs for the Yankees and that was it. 

After such a majestic regular season, it was definitely a disappointment to lose so quickly to New York (again).  But, measure that disappointment with how stacked the playoffs were with 100-win teams in New York and Houston, plus Los Angeles in the NL.  The Twins were only, at best, the 4th best team in baseball. 

A great season but after the fun we had all summer?  This one definitely left us wanting more!

#3- 2010, lost ALDS 3-0 to New York
The Yankees again.  We could have just a list of playoff losses to New York. 

This series was over shockingly fast for a team that won 96 games and had home-field advantage over the Yankees.  It was the first season at Target Field, and the 6th year in the last 9 the Twins made the postseason.  It wasn’t an experience issue. 

So, what went wrong?  Pitching which had been a strength for this team.

The Twins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in game 1.  But, starter Francisco Liriano got into trouble in the 6th, eventually giving up four runs.  The Twins got one back in the bottom of the 6th, but the Yankees struck for two more in the 7th.  The greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera came in with two outs in the 8th.  And that was it.  Door closed and a raucous Target Field crowd went home disappointed. 

Game 2 went to the 7th inning tied, when the Yankees added two off starter Carl Pavano.  One more run in the 9th, and it was Mariano Rivera time again.  Game over.  Heading to New York for game 3. 

Series over as the Yankees ran away 6-1, chasing starter Brian Duensing in the 4th inning, and got 7 solid from Phil Hughes (who would later be a Twin).

At this point, we all thought the Twins would continue to play well in their new home, Target Field.  They had been a postseason fixture since 2002.  But, they would play only one more postseason game at Target Field between 2011 and 2019, a wild card loss to…. you guessed it, the Yankees.

#2- 2006, lost ALDS 3-0 to Oakland
What a year this was.  On June 7th, the Twins were 8 games under .500 and trailed Detroit by 11.5 games.  And what a second half they played. 

It really started June 22nd when they ripped off 11 straight wins.  Then, they lost 5 out of the next 6 and were 12 games back again!  It looked bleak. 

Then it was 8 straight wins.  Talk about streaky.  Luckily for the Twins, the hot streak continued this time.  Slowly, they hung around, creeping slowly up on Detroit.  By late August, they were within 5 games.  By mid-September is was down to 1 game.  Then a half game. 

Detroit lost 2 of 3 to Toronto at home.  The teams were tied on September 28th. 

The Twins hosted  Chicago the last weekend of the season.  Detroit hosted Kansas City.  Both teams lost Friday and Saturday.  Who wanted this thing? 

The very last day of the season, Detroit fell again to Kansas City (a team that went 63-99).  But the Twins got it done, dropping the White Sox 5-1 behind Carlos Silva, and once again they were Central Division Champs. 

With all that experience, and coming into the playoffs after such a hot streak, maybe this was the year they could make a run? 

It was a veteran team, with quality pitching and Mauer and Morneau leading the way on offense.  Johan Santana was the AL Cy Young winner, posting a 2.77 ERA and winning 19 games. 

So, what happened in the postseason? 

They were playing an Oakland team that won just 85 games in the AL West.  They outscored their opponents by only 49 runs over the course of 2006 (the Twins did it by almost 140 runs).  They had home field advantage.  They had the “M&M Boys”.  And they had Santana.  

Yet somehow, the Twins were swept in three straight.  Barry Zito outdueled Santana in game 1, pitching 8 innings and giving up just one run.  Santana gave up 2 runs over 8 innings in a 3-2 loss. 

Home runs from Cuddyer and Morneau had game 2 tied going to the 7th inning when Oakland struck for two runs on a Mark Kotsay inside-the-park home run.  They’d add one more in the 9th for a 5-2 win. 

The Twins had veteran Brad Radke, in his last year, going in game 3 hoping to keep their hopes alive in Oakland.  It was not to be.  The A’s put up runs in both the 2nd and 3rd innings, then dropped a four-spot in the 7th inning in a runaway 8-3 win to send the Twins home with a massively disappointing loss. 

Oakland ended up falling to Detroit in the ALCS.  Yes, the Tigers advanced as the AL Wild Card Team, beating the Yankees and A’s before losing to St. Louis in the World Series.  The Twins may have bested Detroit in the regular season, but fell way short in the postseason.  What could have been. 

#1- 2002, lost ALCS 4-1 to LA Angels
A team that finally made it back to the postseason after years of losing.  Lots of losing.  In 2001, Tom Kelly’s last year, they finally broke through and had a chance to grab the division from Cleveland.  They fell just short but expectations were high in 2002. 

They won the division, and somehow this team snuck past a very good Oakland team in the ALDS (Oakland had won 103 games).  A team full of young kids we weren’t sure were ready for this had suddenly broken through. 

Wait, this was disappointing?  Yes, this was disappointing.  ’87 and ’91 had spoiled us into thinking winning postseason series were a given for our beloved Twins. 

Game 1 of the 2002 ALCS against Anaheim was a throwback to 1991 at the Metrodome.  It was LOUD.  Joe Mays threw an absolute gem and the Twins won 2-1 with Eddie Guardado saving the game.  Just like the ’87 and ’91 teams this team was going to be unbeatable at the Dome! 

Wrong.

Game 2 was all Anaheim early as they chased Twins starter Rick Reed with 6 runs over 5 1/3.  The Twins tried to get back in the game with 3 runs in the 6th, but it was too little, too late in a 6-3 loss. 

But, tied 1-1 heading to Anaheim and their weird Rally Monkey wasn’t so bad. 

Game 3 was a pitcher’s duel between Eric Milton and Jarrod Washburn.  Tied 1-1 in the 8th inning, Troy Glaus broke Twins’ hearts with a game-winning home run off J.C. Romero and the Angels were up 2-1.

The Twins had their ace, Brad Radke all set for game 4.  Radke pitched brilliantly through 6 innings, but was matched by John Lackey.  Scoreless in the 7th, the Angels finally broke through with two runs.  They would add five more as the dam burst in the 8th in a 7-1 win. 

Game 5 and it was do-or-die for the Twins.  Two quick runs in the first two innings had the Twins feeling good behind Joe Mays, who had pitched so well in game 1.  Then, Adam Kennedy who would be series MVP, took over.  The little second baseman turned into Babe Ruth. 

A solo home run in the 3rd, a solo home run in the 5th, then a 3-run dagger in a 10-run (!!!) 7th inning and that was it.  Angels 13-5, series over.  Anaheim would go on to win the World Series.

What makes this the most disappointing postseason loss for the Twins?  Simple.  They gave us hope.  Beating what had been the best team in the American League, Oakland, then winning game 1 of the ALCS, it felt just like the ’87 team again. 

A young core of players coming together at the right time, and beating the best team in the league in the postseason (the ’87 team beat a terrific Detroit Tiger team in the ALCS) felt very familiar.  Twins fans were not used to postseason disappointment.  They hadn’t lost a postseason series since the 1970 loss to Baltimore.

And since that win over Oakland in 2002, the Twins are still looking for that elusive “next” postseason win. 

We’ll steal the famous Dodger mantra of the 1950’s (a team that lost endlessly to the Yankees):

“Wait ‘till next year!”

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