Twins match record with 13th straight postseason loss
NEW YORK (AP) —
Brian Dozier rounded third and yelled "Let's go!" at his teammates, and it seemed these Twins might finally be the ones to foil the New York Yankees in the playoffs.
Then the Yankees got their turn at bat.
Minnesota starter Ervin Santana blew a three-run lead in a wild first inning, and the Yankees piled on from there, giving the Twins a record-tying 13th consecutive postseason defeat with a 8-4 victory in the AL wild-card game Tuesday night.
Minnesota matched the Boston Red Sox from 1986-95 for the worst postseason skid ever, with 10 of those losses coming to New York.
The Yankees eliminated the small-market Twins from four AL Division Series from 2003-10, crushing the World Series aspirations of Minnesota's self-developed core.
Back in the playoffs with another homegrown group, the Twins got a result all too familiar to Minnesota fans — a celebratory Yankee Stadium singalong with Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York."
"l've heard Frank sing that song probably too many times and you can't get them back," Twins manager and Minnesota native Paul Molitor said two weeks ago.
Same old song Tuesday night.
With so many new faces, this time could have been different. Joe Mauer is the only holdover on Minnesota's active roster from its previous playoff appearance seven years ago. He's with a team that's already wrecked some history, too — the Twins went from 103 losses in 2016 to the playoffs this year, a first in major league history.
They seemed ready to further bury the past early on. Dozier hit the first leadoff homer for Minnesota in the postseason, and Eddie Rosario connected for a two-run shot three batters later. A single by Eduardo Escobar and a double by Max Kepler chased Yankees ace Luis Severino with one out — matching the shortest outing by a Yankees starter in the postseason.
New York reliever Chad Green escaped the two-on jam with strikeouts of Byron Buxton and Jason Castro, though, and then Santana wilted in the bottom of the inning. The 34-year-old righty ran full counts against five of seven batters, and New York erased its entire deficit on a three-run homer by Didi Gregorius.
"Devastating," Molitor said during an in-game interview on ESPN.
Santana allowed a go-ahead solo homer to Brett Gardner in the second and got just six outs on 64 pitches before Molitor went to the bullpen.
Yankees AL MVP hopeful Aaron Judge added a two-run shot off Jose Berrios in the fourth inning to make it 7-4, and New York's overpowering bullpen blanked the Twins from there.
Minnesota hasn't won in the playoffs since Game 1 against the Yankees in the 2004 ALDS. A different Santana got the win that day — Johan Santana — with seven strong innings in a 2-0 victory.
The Twins twice denied the Yankees with jumping catches in that game, too — left fielder Shannon Stewart saved one run and possibly two on Ruben Sierra's shot in the second, and center fielder Torii Hunter pulled in an eighth-inning drive by Alex Rodriguez at the top of the wall.
Buxton, a Gold Glove Award contender in center, matched those efforts in the second inning Tuesday. Buxton tracked Todd Frazier's deep fly ball and made a leaping grab, slamming back-first into the wall before tumbling to the ground.
Buxton was lifted in the fourth because of tightness in his back, but only after beating out a potential double play for an RBI fielder's choice and then stealing second base in the third.
Buxton's replacement, Zack Granite, cost Minnesota a possible rally when he missed first base running out a grounder in the eighth.
With two on and a three-run deficit in the sixth, Mauer hit a drive to deep left field, but Gardner grabbed it on the warning track in the corner.
New York added another run in the seventh, and its lights-out relievers closed up shop after that, with Aroldis Chapman striking out three in the ninth.
Then it was Frank's turn — again.