The playoff format changed, but the nightmare continues for Minnesota Twins fans.
Here’s a game-by-game walk-through of the Twins’ tunnel of misery.
2020 AL Wild Card Series
Game 2 (Sept. 30 at Min.): Astros 3, Twins 1
A seventh-inning Carlos Correa home run put Houston ahead for good as the Astros eliminated the Twins, handing them their 18th straight playoff defeat. The bright side, if there is one: The shortened best-of-three series meant it only took two losses for Minnesota to bow out this time around — and, hey, at least they weren’t swept by the Yankees yet again, right?
Game 1 (Sept. 29 at Min.): Astros 4, Twins 1
A new year and another round added to the playoffs just added another dose of misery for the Twins with Sergio Romo walking in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning of a series-opening loss to the Astros.
2019 AL Division Series
Game 3 (Oct. 7 at Min.): Yankees 5, Twins 1
The Yankees have been the Twins’ particular nemesis during the painful stretch, handing Minnesota 13 of the 17 defeats, including the series-ender in Game 3 at Target Field.
The air was sucked out of Target Field early, as the Twins came up empty on a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the bottom of the second while already trailing 1-0 on a Gleyber Torres homer. Eddie Rosario provided a little life with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth, but given the history, it had to be hard for even Minnesotans to get too excited. Aroldis Chapman kept them — and the Twins — in check.
Game 2 (Oct. 5 at N.Y.): Yankees 8, Twins 2
This one was over early. Didi Gregorius, whose three-run home run in the 2017 wild-card game erased the Twins’ first-inning lead, hit a back-breaking grand slam during a seven-run third inning.
Game 1 (Oct. 4 at N.Y.): Yankees 10, Twins 4
The Twins surrender three runs in the ninth inning and lose 4-1 to the Astros, setting an American pro sports record with their 17th consecutive postseason loss.
The Twins’ record-setting loss featured a franchise postseason-best three home runs, but Jose Berrios and a procession of relievers got pummeled by the Yankees. The big hit? A two-run, bases-loaded Gleyber Torres double in the fifth that broke a 3-3 tie.
2017 wild-card game
Oct. 3 at N.Y.: Yankees 8, Twins 4
The Twins carried the baggage of a nine-game postseason losing streak against the Yankees (and 12 games overall) into the Bronx. Things started well enough for Minnesota — three runs in the top of the first off Yankees starter Luis Severino, who recorded just one out — but that didn’t last long. New York countered with three runs in the bottom of the first off Ervin Santana, then took the lead for good in the third on Greg Bird‘s two-out single off Jose Berrios.
2010 AL Division Series
Game 3 (Oct. 9 at N.Y.): Yankees 6, Twins 1
In his only season as an All-Star, New York’s Phil Hughes made his first (and best) postseason start, shutting down his future team on four hits over seven innings to complete a three-game sweep. Swept out of the playoffs by the Yankees for the second straight year, the Twins wouldn’t return to the postseason for seven years.
Game 2 (Oct. 7 at Min.): Yankees 5, Twins 2
In the eighth straight postseason meeting, the Twins took the lead over the Yankees, only to let it slip away. With the game tied at two in the bottom of the sixth, a tiring Carl Pavano gave up two runs and didn’t record another out, as a Lance Berkman double and a Derek Jeter single put the Yankees on top for good. Minnesota went nine up, nine down in the last three innings.
Game 1 (Oct. 6 at Min.): Yankees 6, Twins 4
Coming off one of his best seasons with the Twins, Francisco Liriano cruised through five two-hit innings, then hit a wall, coughing up a 3-0 lead. Minnesota tied the score on a bases-loaded walk in the sixth, but the Yankees regained the lead in the seventh on a two-run homer by Mark Teixeira. The Twins stranded five runners in the last three innings.
2009 AL Division Series
Game 3 (Oct. 11 at Min.): Yankees 4, Twins 1
Andy Pettitte and Pavano were engaged in a solid pitchers’ duel before the Twins broke through to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth. But as has often been the case in these meetings, the Yankees answered quickly, with Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada hitting solo home runs in the seventh. New York tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth before Mariano Rivera sent Minnesota packing.
Game 2 (Oct. 9 at N.Y.): Yankees 4, Twins 3 (11 innings)
This was perhaps the most painful loss of the bunch. After Hughes got two quick outs in the top of the eighth of a 1-1 game, a walk and single set up Nick Punto to give the Twins the lead with a single, and a Denard Span single off Rivera made it 3-1. But in the bottom of the ninth, Twins closer Joe Nathan gave up a leadoff single to Teixeira, and Rodriguez followed with a two-run blast to right-center to tie the game. In the 11th, the Twins loaded the bases with nobody out but squandered the opportunity, then Teixeira put them out of their misery with a laser beam of a walk-off homer off Jose Mijares.
Game 1 (Oct. 7 at N.Y.): Yankees 7, Twins 2
The 103-win Yankees figured to roll over the 87-win Twins, but Minnesota struck first, with two third-inning runs off CC Sabathia. Jeter countered with a two-run homer to tie it in the bottom of the inning, and the Yankees were off and running. The big blow was a two-run homer by Hideki Matsui in the fifth off Liriano.
2006 AL Division Series
Game 3 (Oct. 6 at Oak.): A’s 8, Twins 3
Facing elimination, the Twins didn’t put up much of a fight, as Brad Radke, in his final big league appearance, gave up four runs — Eric Chavez and Milton Bradley went deep — in the first three innings. Minnesota never recovered.
Game 2 (Oct. 4 at Min.): A’s 5, Twins 2
After Twins starter Boof Bonser held Oakland to two runs over six innings, Minnesota tied it on back-to-back homers by Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau. With two outs in the top of the seventh, the A’s Mark Kotsay hit a sinking liner to center, and the usually reliable Torii Hunter made an ill-advised dive for the ball, which skipped past him and rolled to the wall. Kotsay, bad back and all, circled the bases for a two-run, inside-the-park home run — and that was that.
Game 1 (Oct. 3 at Min.): A’s 3, Twins 2
To open the 2006 playoffs, the Twins’ Johan Santana, at the height of his powers in his second Cy Young season, faced off against Oakland lefty Barry Zito, no slouch himself. Santana was touched for two runs in the second inning (Frank Thomas hit a solo homer, Marco Scutaro an RBI double), and Zito allowed only a seventh-inning solo shot to the Twins’ Rondell White that made it 2-1. Both teams scored in the ninth (the A’s on another Thomas homer), but Oakland’s Huston Street got White on a fly out to end it.
2004 AL Division Series
Game 4 (Oct. 9 at Min.): Yankees 6, Twins 5 (11 innings)
This one stung. Facing elimination, Minnesota was cruising with a 5-1 lead (and 96% win expectancy) heading into the eighth inning. But things unraveled quickly for the Twins and reliever Juan Rincon. It went like this: single, wild pitch, walk, run-scoring single, strikeout, three-run homer by Ruben Sierra. Tie game. It stayed that way until the top of the 11th, when Rodriguez doubled, stole third and scored on a wild pitch by Kyle Lohse. Meanwhile, Tom Gordon and Rivera combined to retire the last 10 Twins batters in order, and the Yankees celebrated on the Metrodome carpet.
Game 3 (Oct. 8 at Min.): Yankees 8, Twins 4
Minnesota’s Jacque Jones jumped on Yankees starter Kevin Brown with a solo homer in the bottom of the first. But New York answered with three in the second, then tacked on four more runs in the sixth to win.
Game 2 (Oct. 6 at N.Y.): Yankees 7, Twins 6 (12 innings)
The loss that started it all was a serious gut punch for the Twins. After a 2-0 win in Game 1 of the series, Minnesota staged a two-run rally in the eighth inning off Rivera to tie Game 2. In the 12th inning, a Torii Hunter homer off Tanyon Sturtze gave the Twins a 6-5 lead. But Joe Nathan, in his third inning of work, ran out of gas, issuing one-out walks to Miguel Cairo and Jeter before a ground-rule double by A-Rod tied it. J.C. Romero replaced Nathan, who threw 53 pitches, and on Romero’s first pitch, Hideki Matsui hit a line drive to right that brought Jeter home for the winning run. Instead of leaving New York with a 2-0 series lead, the Twins were on a road to postseason ruin they wouldn’t be able to exit for at least 16 years.