October 4, 2023

Just call him Mr. Clutch: Lewis lifts Twins to 3-1 win, team snaps postseason losing streak

Carlos Correa and Michael A. Taylor made terrific defensive plays on Tuesday, but the hero was rookie Royce Lewis who again displayed a knack for coming up huge in big moments by hitting not one but two home runs to lead the Twins to a 3-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series.

More significantly, the win means the Twins have finally snapped the longest postseason winless drought in North American history, otherwise known as an 18-game losing streak that started in October 2004, and chucked it into the nearest garbage pile. Good riddance. It is over.

MLB.com got a nice quote from Twins reliever and Minnesota native Caleb Thielbar about the moment.

“I was a senior in high school in ’04,” Thielbar told MLB.com. “I remember the [last playoff win]. I’ve experienced everything that all the fans have, too. This was my team growing up. It’s still my team. I know how people feel, and I know what weight was lifted off everyone’s backs today.”

Rookie Lewis was responsible for all three runs in Tuesday’s win. He hit a two-run shot in the first inning, added a solo blast in the third inning and Twins pitching did the rest. Starter Pablo Lopez allowed only a run and four relievers pitched scoreless baseball the rest of the way. Griffin Jax was especially impressive. He served up a leadoff double, then got out of the inning on eight pitches, including two strikeouts.

Sonny Gray gets the ball on Wednesday against old friend and ex-Twin Jose Berrios. Berrios beat the Twins 3-0 on May 28, pitching five-plus scoreless innings with five walks and five strikeouts. In six seasons with the Twins, Berrios compiled a 55-43 record with a 4.08 ERA.

Extra innings …

-Although Lewis deserves the limelight, Correa did make a great defensive play on a chopper hit to third base that got under Jorge Polanco’s glove. Correa ran about 30 feet to back up Polanco, grabbed the ball and threw an absolute laser to home plate to get the out on the Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette.

-Taylor made a nice diving catch in center field on a short fly ball.

-Lewis had a 2-for-3 day at the plate with two home runs and a walk.

“This atmosphere, truly, like when I tell you it was electric, it brought that electricity into my body,” Lewis told MLB.com. “I felt different. My heart was beating — it was the most nervous game, exciting game I’ve ever played in my life. It was so much fun.”

It was fun for us, too, Royce.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.