MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Twins are moving on in the American League Playoffs after a 2-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday in front of 38,518 fans at Target Field.
The Twins get a 2-0 series sweep, and advance to face the Houston Astros in the AL Divisional Playoffs. The Twins broke an 18-game playoff losing streak that spanned 19 years in Tuesday night’s 3-1 win. Wednesday, they ended a 21-year series drought. It was their first series win since beating the Oakland Athletics in 2002.
The Twins had their second clubhouse beer and champagne celebration in less than two weeks after the win as their postseason run continues. It's the first playoff series sweep they've ever had in franchise history.
So how does it feel to end a 21-year drought?
"Like everything that you imagine that it feels like. It’s elation, I feed off all the energy of all of our guys because our guys bring it every day on the field. They can celebrate it, too," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "That feeling, watching them go at it, it’s one of the best feelings in the world because we work our whole lives to get to moments like this, just to have a chance. We took advantage of our chance."
The Blue Jays did the Twins plenty of favors in Game 2. With former Twin Jose Berrios in cruise control after three innings, John Schneider removed him after a leadoff walk in the fourth for Yusei Kikuchi. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Carlos Correa delivered a single to center, scoring Royce Lewis to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. Willi Castro then grounded into a double play, but it scored Donovan Solano for a 2-0 lead.
Correa said after he remembers watching the playoffs from the couch last year. That was enough motivation for him to perform in the biggest moments. That’s October baseball, what he lives for.
"Knowing that if you don’t win ballgames, you go home. Going home for me, it’s not fun. Last year when I was sitting watching the playoffs, I told my wife I never again want to miss the playoffs," Correa said. "When you’re in between those lines, you just focus a lot more. You give everything you have out there, all the energy and every little thing that’s bothering you in your body doesn’t matter. Just go out there and try to perform to win games."
Correa was also directly involved in one of the biggest defensive plays in the game in the fifth inning. With Bo Bichette at the plate, two runners on and two out, he relayed a pickoff play at second to catcher Ryan Jeffers, who then gave Sonny Gray the signal. Vlad Guerrero Jr. was at second, and when he led off too far, Gray turned and threw to Correa.
He got the tag on Guerrero for the third out. Inning and scoring threat over. Correa noticed in the first inning that because Twins’ fans were so loud, Blue Jays’ baserunners couldn’t hear the third base coach.
"I talked to Sonny earlier in the game and I told him there were some free outs on the bases. He was like ‘What do you mean?’ I said they’re taking big leads and if you look at me, I’ll give you a sign. It felt like the right situation to do it," Correa said. "Vladdy was getting a huge lead because he was trying to score on a single. I felt like that was the right spot to do it, I gave him the sign and we executed."
Gray had to do his best to maintain his cool in one of the biggest moments of the game.
"It was something in all honesty that we started in Spring Training. Carlos comes up to me after the first inning and says ‘Hey listen, they can’t hear the third base coach yell back. There’s going to be an option to pick. It’s going to be there,’" Gray said. "It’s a 3-2 count and I hear timing pick, second base. Cool. Carlos makes an incredible tag and we get him out. For him to have the awareness that this there for us and in a moment like that, it’s what makes him special."
The Blue Jays had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth, but Matt Chapman grounded into an inning-ending double play, started by Correa. So to sum up the night, Correa not only delivered the eventual game-winning hit, he made the two biggest defensive plays of the night.
Gray did his part in Game 2, with five shutout innings while striking out six and walking two. The Twins’ bullpen was perfect, with scoreless efforts from Louie Varland, Caleb Thielbar, Brock Stewart, Griffin Jax and Jhoan Duran.
The Twins will start their first ALDS in 21 years on Saturday in Houston.