19 facts about the Twins snapping a 19-year postseason losing streak

October 4th, 2023

With their 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series at Target Field on Tuesday, the Twins ended a 19-year postseason winless streak. Minnesota's 18 straight playoff losses over that span is the longest such streak in MLB history.

Prior to Tuesday’s victory, the Twins had gone winless in six postseason appearances since defeating the Yankees in Game 1 of the 2004 AL Division Series.

The drought was the proverbial elephant in the room during the leadup to this year's postseason opener for the Twins, but the club didn’t seem fazed by it before finally bringing it to an end.

The 23-year-old rookie first baseman in Game 1 of that 2004 ALDS is now a broadcaster for the team and has spent a lot of time around this group. Prior to the drought-busting victory, he had a strong feeling that these Twins would get it done.

“It doesn’t matter to these guys,” said Justin Morneau, who was the 2006 AL MVP and a four-time All-Star during a 14-year Major League career.

“The thing that bothers me most about [talk of the drought] is that you have to be really good to make the playoffs. Those were good Twins teams -- it’s just that there was that one person hurt every year, a crazy play that doesn’t get made. It seems like all the luck just worked against them. At some point, it’s going to even out.”

Perhaps that evening out began with Minnesota’s win over Toronto on Tuesday. Here’s what to know about the streak and some context to underscore just how long it had been between Twins postseason victories.

The drought

-- It lasted 6,938 days. Over that span (excluding 2004), the Twins reached the postseason in 2006, '09, '10, '17, '19 and '20. Five of those appearances were as AL Central champions (Minnesota was a Wild Card team in 2017).

-- Of the 18 postseason losses during the drought, 13 came against the Yankees. The Twins' New York nemesis would go on to win the World Series in only one of those years, however -- 2009.

-- The Twins had a lead at some point in nine of the 18 losses. Two of the Twins’ three losses to the Yankees in the 2004 ALDS were by one run, both in extra innings.

-- The latest lead the Twins had in a postseason game during the drought was the 12th inning of Game 2 of the 2004 ALDS, the game immediately following their last playoff win prior to Tuesday. Minnesota led New York, 6-5, before ultimately losing on a walk-off sacrifice fly by Hideki Matsui after Alex Rodriguez delivered a game-tying double.

-- During the Twins’ 19 years without a postseason victory, every other team in the Majors won at least two playoff games. The team with the most playoff victories over that span is the Astros, with 69.

-- Minnesota’s drought spanned three managers: Ron Gardenhire (2004-14), Paul Molitor (2015-18) and Rocco Baldelli (2019-23).

The world

Prior to their Game 1 win in the AL Wild Card Series, here’s what the world looked like when the Twins had last won a playoff game:

-- George W. Bush was the president of the United States

-- Facebook, the world's first major social media platform, was in its first year, and it was still called “The Facebook.” It was limited to Harvard University and other colleges in the northeastern U.S.

-- The iPhone was still three years away. Flip-phones ruled the Earth.

-- The Internet looked a little different.

The baseball world

The baseball world looked a little different, too:

-- The Twins were still playing in the Metrodome.

-- The Phillies had just completed their first season in Citizens Bank Park.

-- The Astros would still be in the National League for another eight years.

-- Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was a 22-year-old center fielder with the Rays.

-- Twins great Joe Mauer was a 21-year-old rookie.

-- Royce Lewis, who was Minnesota's hero in Game 1 with a pair of home runs, was 5 years old.

2004 ALDS Game 1

The box score from Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS has us remembering some guys.

-- The Twins’ starter in that game was Johan Santana, who went seven scoreless innings in the 2-0 victory. His counterpart was Mike Mussina. Mariano Rivera pitched in the game, as did Joe Nathan, who picked up the save.

-- Notable names in Minnesota’s lineup: Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau, Jacque Jones, Shannon Stewart, Corey Koskie

-- Notable names in New York’s lineup: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Bernie Williams, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, Ruben Sierra, John Olerud

Next on the checklist

It was a long time coming, but the Twins have finally put their winless streak in the playoffs to rest. Next on the list of droughts to snap? The big one. Can Minnesota win its first World Series title since 1991?

Morneau certainly thinks so.

“This team’s concern is winning more than one game,” he said. “They talk about winning the World Series and I think this is the deepest Twins team that’s been in the postseason in a while, and they’re capable of doing it.”