Twins' losing streak: Breaking down historic 18-game skid as team tries for first playoff win since 2004

When Pablo López takes the mound Tuesday against the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series, he will try to do something no Minnesota Twins pitcher has accomplished since 2004: win a postseason game. The Twins have not won a postseason game since Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS against the New York Yankees at the old Yankee Stadium. Johan Santana outdueled Mike Mussina that night.

Minnesota takes a historic 18-game postseason losing streak into Tuesday’s Game 1 against the Toronto Blue Jays. It is not just the longest postseason losing streak in baseball history. It’s the longest such streak in the history of the four major North American pro sports leagues. Here’s the list:

  1. Minnesota Twins: 18 games and counting (2004 to present)
  2. Chicago Blackhawks: 16 games (1975-79)
  3. Detroit Pistons: 14 games and counting (2008 to present)
  4. Los Angeles Kings: 14 games (1993-2001)
  5. Several teams tied at 13 games

Assuming the Twins had a 50/50 chance of winning each game (not realistic, but humor me), the odds of losing 18 consecutive games are 0.00038147%, or one in 2,621. This losing streak has spanned multiple generations of players, multiple managers, multiple front offices, and even multiple home ballparks. The Twins are 0-5 all-time at Target Field in the postseason.

“We’ve had three managers now be a part of this streak, and how many dozens of players? Probably hundreds of players,” one fan told recently. “And they’re not necessarily the ones who, like, were the streak when they added on their couple of games to it. But it really is a streak of the fans who have been here for closing in on two full decades of it.”

In case you or that fan are wondering, 99 different players have appeared in a postseason game for the Twins during their losing streak, led by Michael Cuddyer’s 13. Joe Mauer is the only other player in double digits. He played in 10 of the 18 losses. Here are Minnesota’s postseason results since their last postseason win in 2004:


92-70 (won AL Central)

Lost ALDS 3-1 vs. Yankees


96-66 (won AL Central)

Lost ALDS 3-0 vs. Athletics


87-76 (won AL Central)

Lost ALDS 3-0 to Yankees


94-68 (won AL Central)

Lost ALDS 3-0 to Yankees


85-77 (second wild-card)

Lost Wild Card Game to Yankees


101-61 (won AL Central)

Lost ALDS 3-0 to Yankees


36-24 (won AL Central)

Lost Wild Card Series 2-0 to Astros

At least the Twins won have to worry about running into the Yankees this postseason. New York finished in fourth place and didn’t make the expanded 12-team postseason field. Then again, would there be a sweeter way to end the losing streak than with a win against the Yankees? I guess at this point who cares who the Twins beat. They just want that postseason win.

“I always kind of feel like that Michael Scott meme of, ‘I’m ready to be hurt again,'” the same Twins fans told

There have been remarkably few close calls during the streak. Only four of the 18 losses were by one run — the average margin of defeat is 3.2 runs — and only twice did the Twins have a lead in the ninth inning or later. Joe Nathan blew the save and allowed a walk-off sac fly to Hideki Matsui in the Game 2 in 2004, and Nathan surrendered a game-tying two-run homer to Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning of Game 2 in 2009. Minnesota lost that game on Mark Teixeira’s walk-off homer in the 11th.

I’m not a believer in jinxes or curse or anything like that. There’s no reason the Twins can’t go out and win Game 1 on Tuesday. What happened in 2004 or 2010 or last week has no bearing on what happens next. That said, the Twins get asked about the losing streak every October. It’s tiresome and it’s the kind of thing that can creep into the back of your mind once you fall behind, even by one run. Once the Twins end that streak and get the monkey off their back, don’t be surprised if they go on a run.

“Nothing is more important than winning tomorrow,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Monday (per The Athletic). That’s true of every postseason game. In Minnesota’s case, the stake are a little bit higher. This postseason losing streak has gone on long enough.

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