Minnesota Twins' 101-win season goes out with a whimper in ALDS sweep by Yankees

The Minnesota Twins 2019 season came to an end on Monday with a 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series. The Yankees completed a three-game sweep over the AL Central champs. With Monday's loss -- their 16th straight postseason loss -- the Twins have now tied the record for the longest playoff losing streak in North American sports. And to add insult to injury, 13 of those losses have come against the Yankees and Minnesota's been eliminated by New York in six of their last seven playoff appearances.

Minnesota's bats, which hit a record-setting and league-leading 307 home runs during the regular season, went out quiet in their series loss to the Yankees. They hit just .218 and only recorded four home runs in the three-game series.

"We hit more than a handful of balls on the barrel, and didn't have anything to show for it. [The Yankees] made several good, quality plays out there that helped them get through some innings," first-year manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters after the loss. "No excuse there. We were beaten by a team that played better than us over these three games."

Some of Minnesota's notable slumps came from the team's biggest players. Max Kepler went hitless in 10 at-bats while Mitch Garver finished 2-for-12 with four strikeouts and Miguel Sano went 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts. Garver, Kepler and Sano along with Nelson Cruz and Eddie Rosario each hit more than 30 home runs in the regular season, the first team in MLB history with five players that hit 30 or more homers. But the group of five combined for just three during the postseason.

Even worse than the struggling offense is the fact that the offense struggled in big-time moments. With runners in scoring position, the Twins went 3-for-28 in the series. In Monday's elimination game at Target Field, Minnesota went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. In the second inning, it looked like the Twins were going to take the lead after a first-inning Gleyber Torres home run. Minnesota had the bases loaded with no outs against Yankees starter Luis Severino, but came away scoreless. Sano hit a pop up, Marwin Gonzalez struck out swinging and then Jake Cave struck out looking for the final out of the inning. And while there were a few times where Minnesota got a ball into play, the Yankees defense made clutch plays, overall, the Twins offense were expected to play much better in this series. 

What also went wrong for Minnesota was their relievers' shortcomings in key moments throughout the series. The Yankees went into the matchup with a deeper bullpen, but the Twins young relief pitchers had just closed out a successful second-half. The postseason pressure (and the Yankees relentless lineup) got to them, however. In Game 1's 10-4 loss, four relievers combined to give up seven earned runs. In Game 2, Tyler Duffey gave up a third-inning grand slam to Didi Gregorius. And in Game 3, the Yankees scored three runs after starter Jake Odorizzi came out of the game.

But the Twins bullpen's second-half performance may have something to do with the club's inflated win total. It's not easy for any team to reach the 100-win mark, but Minnesota might have had the easiest competition out of the four MLB teams who reached the milestone this season. There's not a whole lot of competition outside of the Indians in their division, and Minnesota played 21 of their final 55 games against 100-loss teams (Royals, White Sox and Marlins).

Despite (another) early exit in the postseason, the 2019 Minnesota Twins season will surely be a memorable one. After an aggressive batch of offseason signings, Minnesota came out of nowhere to knock off Cleveland and win their first division title since 2010. Under Baldelli, the Twins built around their core and developed a powerful lineup.

Sano put together a much more productive season than last year, but there's still concern regarding the Twins other former top prospect, Byron Buxton, after he lost another season to injury. The club will have to determine what the future looks like for Jonathan Schoop and Jake Odorizzi, who will be free agents in 2020. Cruz will be as well, but the designated hitter has already said that he wants to return and hopes that Minnesota will pick up his 2020 option. This team's outlook for next season is still bright regardless of this season's disappointing ending.

Katherine Acquavella joined CBS Sports in 2018. Her work has appeared in Yankees Magazine and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's Memories and Dreams magazine. She is a graduate of St. John's... Full Bio

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