Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins End Playoff Record Skid
MINNEAPOLIS -- It spanned 19 years and 18 games, three different managers, and a handful of local icons, from Torii Hunter to Joe Mauer to Byron Buxton. And now, at long last, the Minnesota Twins' postseason losing streak -- the longest in North American men's professional sports -- is over, courtesy of a stirring 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of their American League Wild Card Series on Tuesday.
With Royce Lewis, the injury-marred former No. 1 overall pick, recovering from a hamstring strain just in time to crush two home runs. With some of their most unheralded players -- center fielder Michael Taylor, first baseman Donovan Solano, and relief pitcher Griffin Jax -- turning in big performances. With their star leader, Carlos Correa, making a game-changing defensive play. And with their new ace, Pablo Lopez, embracing the magnitude of the streak and pitching like a man hell-bent on ending it.
Lewis returned to the dugout after his second home run and made it a point to look around at the Target Field crowd of 38,450, as energetic and frenzied as he had ever experienced them. He was following the advice of Mauer, who told him in a text message to "take it in."
"All those fans -- they really stepped up for us, man," Lewis said. "It was special."
Said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli: "The ballpark today, I think, was a great representation today of how the community feels about us and what we do. I thought the place was going to split open and melt. Honestly. It was out of this universe out there on the field. The fans took over the game. They helped us win today."
Eight teams were in action as the first day of the 2023 MLB playoffs began with the best-of-three wild-card round.
Elsewhere, the visiting Texas Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays. The National League took center stage with the Arizona Diamondbacks upsetting the Milwaukee Brewers and the Philadelphia Phillies beating the Miami Marlins.
Game two between the Twins and Blue Jays has a first pitch set for 3:38 PM Wednesday. Sonny Gray will get the start for Minnesota against former Twin Jose Berrios.
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Gallery Credit: Curt St. John