Moller: Dissecting the Twins’ abysmal losing streak
Nate Moller | Thursday, October 8, 2020
As a diehard Twins fan, it is a rough life. In my lifetime, the Twins have had their fair share of solid teams, but they haven’t won a playoff game since 2004, when I was just three years old. On top of that, the last time the Twins won a playoff series was in 2002 against the Oakland Athletics, when I was just one.
This postseason, I was very confident. My Twins were facing an Astros team that finished the season below .500 and looked nothing like a serious contender. Despite this, my Twins managed to mess up in the playoffs again and score two runs in two games. With these losses, the Twins extended their postseason losing streak to a staggering 18 games. This record is by far the longest postseason losing streak in MLB history, and is now the longest of any major sports team.
Watching the Twins lose the way they did this year was incredibly depressing. The Twins lineup was arguably one of the best in baseball, with names like Nelson Cruz, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, Miguel Sano, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton. Although Donaldson was injured for this year’s playoff series, one could argue that the Twins’ lineup is one of the deepest in baseball, with no obvious weak link.
Against the Astros, though, the Twins lineup was shut down. In the two games, the Twins only had seven total hits. Additionally, the Twins were not able to get clutch hits when it mattered most. In fact, the Twins had the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning in both games, but were unable to take advantage of the situation.
The one good thing about this year’s postseason performance for the Twins was that their pitching was much better. In past playoffs, I have vivid memories of the Yankees’ hitters pounding homerun after homerun off the Twins. The Yankees account for 15 of the Twins’ 18 postseason losses, which is one of the reasons why I had faith that the Twins could snap their horrid streak against the Astros this year.
Obviously there is something clearly wrong with the Twins once they make the playoffs. So how do the Twins finally get over the hump and win a playoff game, and maybe even a series? At this point, I think it is all mental. The Twins have the roster in place to be successful in the postseason, but they can’t let this losing streak get to their head. This year, the Twins had one of the better lineups in baseball, their starting pitching staff came a long way with Kenta Maeda and Jose Berrios having good years, and they also possessed some strong arms in the bullpen.
With all of these tools, the Twins should be able to win a playoff game, but this year, they let the moment get to their heads again. There were multiple plays throughout the series that showed this. As I mentioned before, clutch hitting in the series was non-existent, and it’s hard to win a series when that happens. Additionally, the Twins gave up the decisive run in the first game off of an error from Jorge Polanco. I’ll admit that Polanco is one of the worst fielding shortstops in the MLB, but his error was absolutely inexcusable in that situation.
The worst part of the series, though, was seeing the Twins hitters basically give up towards the end of the second game. Almost every player would get annoyed when they fouled off a good pitch, and you could sense the frustration was building among the team. Additionally, Eddie Rosario, who is supposed to be one of the team’s leaders, was ejected for arguing a call.
All in all, the reason for the Twins’ abysmal playoff losing streak is themselves. If they are going to finally break through soon, they need to get their heads straight. Until they can do that, success in October is impossible.