Every now and again, a baseball team just gets stuck in a rut. It feels like nothing can go right, and the losses keep stacking up. But at some point, every team is bound to snap out of it.
The Twins, however, have been stuck in a very strange rut. Minnesota has been to the MLB playoffs seven times in a 19-year span. In those trips, they have won a total of one playoff game. And entering the 2023 wild-card series against the Blue Jays, Minnesota is sitting on a losing streak of 18 straight playoff losses.
It feels almost impossible to lose that many playoff games in a row. There is so much turnover between rosters year after year that the losses can’t simply be attributed to un-clutch players or a group that isn’t connecting right. Over this time, the Twins have had Torii Hunter, Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Carl Pavano, Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jose Berrios and countless other big-name players.
Yet all that talent has led to no playoff wins, and a historic postseason losing streak.
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What began this losing skid, and where does it sit among professional sports teams? Here’s everything you need to know about the Twins’ losing streak.
Twins playoff losing streak
Back in 2004, the Twins kicked off an ALDS matchup against the Yankees with a series-opening win. Johan Santana out-dueled Mike Mussina in a 2-0 victory, with Joe Nathan slamming the door on the Bronx Bombers in New York.
But that was the end of the run. The Yankees walked off the Twins in extra innings to end the New York homestand, then went to Minnesota where the Twins suffered 8-4 and 6-5 losses to close out their season.
The Twins have made it back to the playoffs several times since, but have made the fastest possible exit each time. The Twins won the AL Central in 2006, but were swept in three games by the Athletics. They won the division again in 2010, but were swept by the Yankees. Minnesota made it only as a wild card team in 2017, but lost that single-game elimination at the hands of the Yankees. Then in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the AL Central-winning Twins were swept in the two-game wild-card series by the Astros.
Here’s a look at how each game has gone for the Twins during their losing skid:
|Oct. 6, 2004||Division series at Yankees||7-6|
|Oct. 8, 2004||Division series vs. Yankees||8-4|
|Oct. 9, 2004||Division series vs. Yankees||6 -5|
|Oct. 3, 2006||Division series vs. Athletics||3-2|
|Oct. 4, 2006||Division series vs. Athletics||5-2|
|Oct. 6, 2006||Division series at Athletics||8-3|
|Oct. 7, 2009||Division series at Yankees||7-2|
|Oct. 9, 2009||Division series at Yankees||4-3|
|Oct. 11, 2009||Division series vs. Yankees||4-1|
|Oct. 6, 2010||Division series vs. Yankees||6-4|
|Oct. 7, 2010||Division series vs. Yankees||5-2|
|Oct. 9, 2010||Division series at Yankees||6-1|
|Oct. 3, 2017||Wild-card game at Yankees||8-4|
|Oct. 4, 2019||Division series at Yankees||10-4|
|Oct. 5, 2019||Division series at Yankees||8-2|
|Oct. 7, 2019||Division series vs. Yankees||5-1|
|Sep. 29, 2020||Wild-card series vs. Astros||4-1|
|Sep. 30, 2020||Wild-card series vs. Astros||3-1|
Longest playoff losing streaks
It might not come as a surprise to learn the Twins’ losing streak is historic. Between MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL history, no team has lost more than the Twins’ 18 consecutive playoff games, per Stathead.
|League||Team||Streak||Streak start||Streak end|
|MLB||Twins||18||Oct. 6, 2004||Active|
|NHL||Blackhawks||16||Apr. 20, 1975||Apr. 22, 1979|
|NBA||Pistons||14||May. 28, 2008||Active|
|NHL||Kings||14||Jun. 3, 1993||Apr. 14, 2001|
|MLB||Red Sox||13||Oct. 25, 1986||Oct. 6, 1995|
|NBA||Knicks||13||May. 2, 2001||May. 3, 2012|
|NBA||Hornets||12||May. 12, 2002||Apr. 20, 2016|
|NBA||Grizzlies||12||Apr. 17, 2004||May. 1, 2006|
|NHL||Raptors||12||Apr. 16, 1979||Apr. 7, 1983|
|MLB||Phillies||11||Oct. 9, 1915||Oct. 12, 1976|
|NBA||Nuggets||11||May. 15, 1988||Apr. 30, 1994|
|NBA||Bullets||11||Apr. 11, 1965||Mar. 27, 1970|
|NHL||Blackhawks||11||May. 14, 1985||Apr. 7, 1988|
The Blackhawks’ run of 16 straight losses from 1975-79 is the only streak that comes close to Minnesota’s 18-playoff game losing skid. Next up among MLB teams is Boston, which went 13 games without a win between 1986 and 1995.
There are no NFL teams that cracked the list, which is almost certainly due to the fact they don’t play in series, but rather play one-and-done games. It would require making the playoffs 18 times and losing 18 straight times to reach Minnesota. The longest NFL playoff losing streak is nine by the Detroit Lions that began in 1992, and is still active to date.