Twins emphatically end 18-game, 6,937-day postseason losing streak: Weird & Wild on Day 1 of MLB playoffs

We kicked off one of the great days in American sports with a 95.1 mph Tyler Glasnow smokeball at 3:07 p.m. ET in romantic Tropicana Field. I don’t know what you were up to at that hour. But I was nestled into my favorite sofa, ready to live everyone’s October dream.

For the next seven hours and 48 minutes, I did what I had to do to serve America. Somebody had to watch those 1,160 pitches thrown Tuesday, in four really fun postseason baseball games. That somebody was me. And yes, you’re welcome. But just know I’m there for you at times like this.

So what if you didn’t do that? It’s my job to tell you what you missed on Day One of the Wild Card Series. And I’m good with that. So here it comes, the Weirdest and Wildest October-ish stuff I witnessed while you were busy living your actual life.

1. 18 was enough!

Kyle Farmer and Donovan Solano celebrate the Game 1 win, which ended the Twins’ epic streak. (Jesse Johnson / USA Today)

So what were you doing back on Oct. 5, 2004? Waiting around all day for the latest episode of “Veronica Mars”? Trying to figure out how to work that newfangled iPod thing you just bought? Posting your first homecoming photos on that cool new site, Facebook?

Well, I’ll tell you what the Minnesota Twins were doing. They were winning a postseason game. And you know why we still remember it vividly? Because for a while there, it looked as if they were determined to spend the rest of the 21st century never winning another one.

But then, Tuesday afternoon, the Twins showed up at Target Field and the Yankees forgot to stop by to beat their brains in. So the Twins did something no high school student in the state of Minnesota had ever seen them do:

Win a freaking postseason game. What a concept.

Twins 3, Blue Jays 1. Mark it down. An 18-game, 6,937-day postseason losing streak was finally ancient history. And afterward, the winning pitcher, Pablo López, was announcing: “The way I see it now, we have a new streak going. We’re 1-0, and that’s the one we want to focus on now.”

OK, that may be the streak he wants to focus on. But if you thought the Weird and Wild column was going to let that other streak — that 19-years-between-postseason-wins streak —just slide by, well, ho ho ho. You’ve never read one of these columns before, huh? So let’s put that baby in the weirdest (and wildest) perspective we can.

How hard is it to lose 18 games in a row? Let’s start there, because even in the regular season, it’s almost impossible. In the last 50 years, just four teams have lost 18 “regular” games in a row (or more). And let’s just say, you wouldn’t describe any of them as “playoff teams.”

Jeff Stone’s 1988 Orioles lost their first 21 in a row — and went on to lose 107 that year. … Pedro Severino’s 2021 Orioles lost 19 in a row — and wound up losing 110. … Runelvys Hernandez’s 2005 Royals lost 19 straight — on their way to 106 losses. … And Ben Ogilvie’s 1975 Tigers also ripped off 19 in a row — as they were traveling the 57-102 freeway.

So it’s semi-understandable for a bunch of terrible teams to find a way to lose 18 in a row (or more). But for a series of actual playoff teams in Minnesota to lose 18 straight? Incomprehensible.

In between Twins postseason wins … Every other team in the sport won at least two postseason games, because of course they did. Here’s the leaderboard.

Astros — 69
Dodgers — 62
Cardinals — 58
Red Sox — 56
Yankees — 52
Phillies — 38
Giants — 36

The Red Sox broke their curse and won four World Series, all while the Twins were winning zero games in October. … The Giants won three World Series. … The White Sox won their first World Series after an 88-year intermission. … The Cubs won a World Series after forgetting to do that for 108 years. … But the Twins? They couldn’t figure out a way to win one postseason game. Incredible.

All four other AL Central teams made it all the way to the World Series. (The White Sox and Royals even won a World Series.) … Those other four AL Central teams won 83 postseason games in the time the Twins were winning zero. And that’s just wrong.

Oye Como Johan. Don’t even think about how long this Twins losing streak would have lasted if Johan Santana had never found his way to the Great Lakes. He was the winning pitcher in the Twins’ most “recent” postseason win … and also the win before that (in 2003).

So in games started by pitchers not named Santana, the Twins lost (take a deep breath now) 25 games in a row. And until Tuesday night, they’d only won two postseason games that Santana didn’t pitch in since Jack Morris walked off the mound in 1991!

Home sweet whatever. Home. Away. It didn’t really matter to the Twins. They could lose pretty much anywhere over these last 19 years. Before Tuesday, their last postseason win at home was Game 1 of the 2002 ALCS, when Joe Mays beat Anaheim — in the palatial Metrodome.

In between, the Twins lost 13 postseason games in a row, at two different homes. And would you believe that was the longest home losing streak in postseason history? You should, because we did not make that up just to mess with you.

Meanwhile in the Twin Cities … the Vikings, Timberwolves and Wild weren’t exactly staging more parades than Macy’s. But even those three teams won 34 playoff games combined while the Twins were winning none — four by the Vikings, four by the T-Wolves and 26 by the Wild. In the small print, it would say the overall record of those other Minnesota teams was 34-72. But that’s still 34 more than zero.

Roll call! Finally, let’s take the roll. What do you say? In between Twins postseason wins …

• Nearly 400 different players appeared in a game for the Twins.

• More than 5,000 different players played in the big leagues.

• Joe Mauer played in 1,868 regular-season and postseason games for the Twins — and never appeared in one postseason victory.

• Miguel Cabrera, the only hitter left in baseball who was active the last time the Twins won in October, had time to pile up 2,913 regular-season hits and 466 homers in between Twins postseason triumphs.

• Zack Greinke, the only pitcher left in baseball who was active the last time the Twins won a postseason game, had time to appear in 562 regular-season games (and win 217 of them) while waiting around for the Twins to win another postseason game.

• And 13 different pitchers started a postseason game for the Twins in between postseason wins — a group that includes Boof Bonser, Randy Dobnak, Brian Duensing and Carlos Silva, not to mention both Ervin and Johan Santana.

But now, there’s finally just one thing left to say about that streak — and the Twins sure have waited a long to say it:

It’s over!



Hayes: Target Field crowd finally delivers, provides Twins the atmosphere they deserve



Blue Jays offence comes up short in Game 1 loss, continues regular-season trend

2. The greatest Game 1 upset ever?

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Corbin Carroll, center, and the upstart Diamondbacks won Game 1 despite an unfavorable pitching matchup. (Michael McLoone / USA Today)

I don’t bet on baseball. I hear there are people out there who do. So while I don’t know much about that, I’m guessing those people spotted the pitching matchup in Milwaukee on Tuesday and thought they saw the lockiest lock in the history of postseason lockiness.

In one corner, it was Corbin Burnes — and his 3.39 ERA — starting Game 1 for the Brewers.

In the other corner, it was Brandon Pfaadt — and his 5.72 ERA — starting Game 1 for the Diamondbacks.

Was there any doubt what was about to happen? Right. Exactly. What happened was …


Somehow the Lock Ness Monster turned the world upside-down in this game. Which turned into Diamondbacks 6, Brewers 3. And I want you to understand the magnitude of what happened here, because this was merely …

The biggest Game 1 upset in the history of postseason baseball!

The amazing Sam Hovland of STATS Perform dug into this for me when it became clear in the late innings what was about to go down. And what I suspected turned out to be true.

Never, in any Game 1 of any postseason series, had we seen this big a disparity in ERA (2.33) between one team’s starter and another team’s starter — with the “wrong” team winding up winning. Seriously.

The old record — a Masato Yoshii-Randy Johnson “mismatch” in the 1999 NLDS — was nearly half a run tighter than this one. Take a look for yourself. Here come the top four in that category. (And FYI, we counted the old one-game Wild Card Game as a “Game 1.”)

Date Difference Winning team starter (ERA) Losing team starter (ERA)



Brandon Pfaadt (5.72)

Corbin Burnes (3.39)



Masato Yoshii (4.40)

Randy Johnson (2.48)



Bartolo Colon (3.95)

Pedro Martinez (2.07)



Charlie Morton (3.05)

Sean Manaea (1.21)

(Source: STATS Perform)

Then again, it would have been hard for this game not to break this record — since STATS found only three Game 1s in history with a greater ERA disparity than this one, period, regardless of outcome.

Date Difference Lowest ERA Highest ERA



Kwang Hyun Kim (1.62)

Chris Paddack (4.73)



Dizzy Dean (2.66)

General Crowder (5.75)



Greg Maddux (1.63)

Kevin Ritz (4.21)



Corbin Burnes (3.39)

Brandon Pfaadt (5.72)

In those other three starts, the “right” team won. But face it. Wasn’t it always just a matter of time before the tables turned and the “wrong” team did what the D-Backs did Tuesday night? Of course it was. Because you know and I know, that’s just how things roll in …


3. Who’s No. 1

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Twins rookie Royce Lewis, the top pick in the 2017 draft, hit two homers in Game 1. (Jesse Johnson / USA Today)

This is what teams dream of when they draft a guy No. 1 in the whole darned draft. They dream of Royce Lewis walking to home plate in the first inning Tuesday — for the first postseason plate appearance of his life — and doing this …

But of course, Royce Lewis didn’t spend the rest of his afternoon on his sofa, eating chips and downing a couple of refreshing beverages. Did he? Just for fun, he was back up there two innings later. And well, you’ve gotta be kidding …

So have I mentioned that the Twins once made him the first player picked in the whole darned draft, back in 2017? Great, because this is where I should definitely do some name-dropping!

By that I mean I should remind you that Kenneth Griffey Jr. was once the first pick in the whole darned draft. So was Larry “Chipper” Jones. And Bryce Harper. And Darryl Strawberry. So was the man who was broadcasting the game where all this happened for ESPN, Alex Rodriguez. Among many other No. 1s.

So let’s take a look at No. 1 picks — and how Lewis’ day compared to their first trips to the Octoberfest.

A homer in the first inning of his postseason life! Imagine making that home-run trot in the very first inning of the very first postseason game you’d ever played. Wow. So what other No. 1 pick has ever done that? The great Katie Sharp of Baseball Reference took a look … and reported the correct answer is …

No one! Just Royce Lewis.

Strange But True first-inning alert! And one more thing before we move along. Want to take a wild guess how many first-inning home runs Royce Lewis hit in the 2023 regular season? If you guessed none, you probably cheated! But yes, that’s right: He came to the plate 33 times in the first inning in the big leagues this year … and never homered once … until he hit That Homer. Goosebumps.

It was the first homer this postseason by anybody! But this wasn’t merely Lewis’ first postseason homer or his team’s first postseason homer. It was the first home run hit by anyone in the 2023 postseason. So how many No. 1 picks in the draft have ever joined Royce Lewis in that club?

I ran that one past my friends at STATS Perform. And once again, that answer was … no one! Just Royce Lewis.

But that’s not all! A few more tidbits:

• Two for two. Even if we toss out the whole first-pick-in-the-draft caveat, only two other men in the history of postseason baseball have ever homered the first two times they went to the plate in their October careers, according to Katie Sharp: Evan Longoria, for the Rays, in 2008 and Gary Gaetti, for the Twins, in 1987.

So does it seem kind of shocking to anyone else that only three players have ever done this … and two of them are Twins? Well, it should — since other than those two, no other players in the history of this franchise, which stretches all the way back to its days in Washington in 1901, have hit two home runs in any postseason game.

• Two for one. Here’s another Weird and Wild special. Lewis was the 10th player ever to hit two home runs in the first postseason game of his career. It’s a fun list. But here’s the Weird and Wild part:

Four of those 10 were once picked first in the whole darned draft! That esteemed group: Lewis, Griffey (1995), Chipper (also 1995) and B.J. Surhoff (1996). Surhoff, by the way, is the only other overall No. 1 besides Lewis to homer in his first postseason plate appearance (but he did no trotting in the first inning.)

So who are the six non-No. 1s to homer twice in their first postseason games? Longoria (2008), Todd Walker (2003), Troy Glaus (2002), Edgardo Alfonzo (1999), Gaetti (1987) and Ted Kluszewski (1959). How ‘bout that group?

• Strange But True multi-homer alert! One final Royce Lewis special:

Before Tuesday: 70 career regular-season games — zero multi-homer games.

But then … what happened Tuesday, in his first postseason game? A multi-homer show in the first three innings happened! It was as spectacular as it was incomprehensible. But don’t waste too much time trying to make sense of it. Because there’s only one way to explain this stuff. It’s …


4. Party of Five

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Need a Game 1 starter? Zack Wheeler is not a bad option! (Bill Streicher / USA Today)

Wait. Don’t touch that mouse. Don’t go anywhere. We’re not quite done here — not before we let you know about all this!

ZACK ATTACK! Has it occurred to anyone outside the 215 area code that Zack Wheeler is baseball’s most top secret superstar? This dude is four seasons into his contract in Philadelphia. He leads all pitchers in the sport in Wins Above Replacement over those four seasons. And it feels as if we never talk about him. But also …

What pitcher would you want starting a Game 1 more than that guy? Check out his three career starts in a Game 1 of any series (two in the 2022 postseason, then Tuesday night in the Phillies’ 4-1 win over Miami):

2022 Wild Card Series: 6 1/3 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs
2022 NLCS: 7 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs
2023 Wild Card Series (Tuesday): 6 2/3 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs

So that totals to 20 innings, just eight hits and one run allowed. Which computes to a career Game 1 ERA of 0.45. Which merely happens to rank as the best of any active starter (minimum: three Game 1’s).

ERA Pitcher Game 1s


Zack Wheeler



Charlie Morton



Dallas Keuchel



Corey Kluber


(Source: Baseball Reference / Stathead)

But that ain’t all. The greatest Game 1 ERA of any starter in postseason history used to be 0.95 … by Johan Santana, in three starts. But that was before Zack Wheeler came along. Discuss!



Zack Wheeler locked in, then unlocked his ‘best’ sweeper in Phillies’ win over Marlins

JORDAN RULES — Speaking of Game 1 dominance … Jordan Montgomery! His day’s work, in Texas’ 4-0 Game 1 wipeout of the Rays, consisted of seven fabulous shutout innings, with six hits, no walks and five strikeouts. And that got me thinking …

In the last 15 months, this man has been traded away by both the Yankees and Cardinals. I thought they might want to know what they’re missing.

Last Yankees Game 1 start of seven-plus shutout innings: Orlando (El Duque) Hernandez in Game 1 of the 1999 ALDS. … And before that, David Wells in 1998. … And before that, Whitey Ford, in 1961!

Last Cardinals Game 1 start of seven-plus shutout innings: Bob Forsch in the 1982 NLCS. … And before that, Bob Gibson in 1968!

So how’d those Jordan Montgomery trades work out again?



In blanking Rays, Jordan Montgomery proves he’s Rangers’ most important trade acquisition

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The Rays committed four errors in their series-opening loss to the Rangers. (Kim Klement Neitzel / USA Today)

EEEESH IN THE TROP! Here’s the Rays’ word of the day from Tuesday: Clank! They’re a team whose M.O. is to do all those little things right. But in their 4-0 loss to Texas there was one little thing they forgot:

Catch the frigging baseball.

They made four errors! And how bizarre is that? It’s the first postseason game in team history in which they put four E’s on the scoreboard. But that’s not all. Even in the regular season, they’d played 390 regular-season games in a row without making four errors in any of them. … They’d done that just once in their previous 664 games. … And they’d done it only twice in their previous 989 games.

But hold on. It gets worse.

They lit the “E” light three innings in a row! This was how they kicked off the postseason: Yandy Díaz put up an E-3 in the first inning. … A wayward René Pinto throw turned into an E-2 in the second inning. … Then Taylor Walls contributed an E-6 throwing error in the third. And let’s just say you don’t see many teams fumble and bumble like that in the first three innings of any game.

• According to STATS, the Rays were the first team in 55 years to commit an error in each of the first three innings in any postseason game — and just the fifth team ever. The others: The 1909 Pirates (World Series Game 4), the 1934 Tigers (World Series Game 1), the 1953 Dodgers (World Series Game 6) and the 1958 Braves (World Series Game 6).

• But now here comes the Weird and Wild part: The Rays have played 4,108 regular-season games in their history. And how many times have they made an error in each of the first three innings of any of those games? Uh-huh. That would be none! Then they did that in Game 1 of a series in which two losses would send them home. Not a good plan!



Rays’ good vibes quickly fade in error-filled loss to Rangers before half-empty park



Rays draw smallest postseason crowd since 1919

TELL IT TO THE JUDGE — Corbin Carroll. He’s not a rookie. He’s a star. And Tuesday night in Milwaukee, he changed a huge October baseball game with this wave of his bat.

I spent way too much time on the following tidbit, while I was trying to watch two postseason games at once. But you can thank me later. Since I looked, I can report that only three other players in history have won a Rookie of the Year award and homered in their first postseason game ever in the same season. Here’s that distinguished trio:

Junior Gilliam, 1953
Evan Longoria, 2008
Aaron Judge, 2017

OK, it’s true Carroll hasn’t won that 2023 National League Rookie of the Year award yet. But if you don’t think he will, I’ve got some exotic oceanfront property in Arizona I’d love to sell you.

CORBIN, MEET CORBIN — But for some of you out there, I know this Rookie of the Year angle wasn’t even at the forefront of your brains when that Corbin Carroll blast left the park, because you had vastly more important stuff to wonder about. By which I mean …

Was that the first home run ever by a Corbin (Carroll) off a Corbin (Burnes)? (Hat tip: The Athletic’s Chris Strauss)

And that answer is … you’d better believe it!

I promise I looked at every variation of Corbins, too, meaning Patrick Corbin also qualified. But never in any game in baseball history, regular season or postseason, had any Corbin homered off any other Corbin. But then it happened Tuesday night in Milwaukee, because of course it did. Heck, that’s just the name of the game in …


(Top photo of Royce Lewis: Brace Hemmelgarn / Minnesota Twins / Getty Images)

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