By Ben Udstuen
The Minnesota Twins just recently won their first series in the playoffs since 2002, let alone their first playoff game since 2004. They haven’t even made it to the playoffs in 12 of these 19 years. So while watching a postseason game featuring the Twins, you can imagine the surprise of seeing a W by the Twins side rather than the opposing side.
As a junior in high school who was born in 2006, I have never seen a successful postseason game for the Twins. I watch a lot of baseball, and there is always a little hope, like in 2019, when the “Bomba Squad” set the MLB record for the number of home runs hit by a team in a single season with 307. They were a 100-win team that lost to the Yankees in three games. The last time the Twins won a playoff game was in 2004, overcoming the Yankees 2-0. Since then, they have lost 18 straight playoff games, 13 of which to the Yankees.
The faces of the team this year, Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, were only 10 years old when the Twins won their last playoff game. Gasoline was only $1.93 a gallon, and the number-one movie at the time was “Shark Tale.” The Golden Gophers were declared a Big 10 football power. Target Field was only a parking lot while the games were being played at the Metrodome. Life has changed drastically since then, and hopefully, for the rest of the postseason, the Twins go for their fourth World Series win.
This season for the Twins was average; however, the AL Central is by far the worst in the league, so it wasn’t hard to reach the playoffs. The Twins were the only team to have a win percentage above .500 in the AL Central, with a record of 87 wins and 75 losses and a win percentage of .537. With these numbers, they were still ahead of the Tigers in second place by nine games. There are some superpowers in the playoffs right now with ridiculously good seasons going, like the 101-61 Orioles, 104-58 Braves, and the 100-62 Dodgers. If the Twins have to face any of these teams, they will have to play the best baseball for the organization since 1991.
There are a few key things that need to keep happening for the Twins to continue winning. First of all, the young players need to keep doing what they’re doing. No. 1 overall draft pick Royce Lewis needs to keep doing his thing, and the rest of them need to keep producing the way they have been. Secondly, the pitching staff needs to keep putting up amazing numbers in strikeouts against teams and keep them off the bases. The Twins led the league in strikeouts this year with 778. The pitching staff is stronger on the starting side, led by Pablo Lopez, Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray, who are very capable and confident in what they do. The bullpen is not as consistent as we would like them to be, and so players need to fit into a role for October, like Jhoan Duran has. Finally, Carlos Correa needs to lead this team as a captain because he has the playoff experience necessary to do so. He has played in three World Series and has won once; hopefully those numbers can change after this season is concluded.
As of the time I’m writing this, the Twins are down 0-1 to the Astros. Hopefully they can turn things around and continue to break more streaks and prove people wrong, showing the talent and capabilities they have. I hope to see a World Series win for the Twins in my lifetime, so why not avoid waiting 19 more years and do it now?
Ben Udstuen is a student at Spring Grove High School. He is one of 13 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 25th year.