Since Major League Baseball expanded its playoff format in 2012, longtime viewers have had to throw out preconception about what can and will happen during October. Truthfully, those preconceptions probably had been smashed somewhere along the way by Bobby Thompson, Kirk Gibson or Luis Gonzalez.
So take this for what it’s worth. The Twins are trailing 2-0 in a race to 3 wins. They’re playing the Yankees. The powerful, 103-win Yankees who where pinstripes and play home games in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have outscored Minnesota 18-6 in the two victories. And to say nothing of the longstanding history between the two organizations, in which New York has won 15 consecutive postseason games, and seemingly owned the Twins over the past 16 years in the month of October.
It doesn’t look like an enviable position for Minnesota.
Bryan Hoch covers the Yankees for MLB.com. He keeps a clean score book and has covered some of that history from the other side. A recent tweet caught my attention.
In the history of best-of-five postseason series, teams taking a 2-0 lead have gone on to win the series 71 of 81 times (88%). In Division Series with the current 2-2-1 format, those winning Games 1 and 2 at home have won the series 27 of 30 times (90%).
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) October 6, 2019
So for as much as the majority of Twins fans feel that this goose is already cooked, we’ll say two things:
Players in the Twins clubhouse Sunday certainly didn’t feel like the series is over.
Trailed the Reds, 2-0. The Giants fought back and won the third game, 2-1, in 10 innings and current Twins reliever Sergio Romo earned the win. In Game 4 it was Tim Lincecum’s wonderful relief effort, spanning 4 1/3 innings, that helped San Francisco earn an 8-3 win to even the series. In Game 5, Buster Posey hit a home run, the Giants scored 6 runs in the 5th inning and went on to win the game and the series. Romo earned the save.
That team went on to win the World Series (the second of their even-year dynasty under future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy).
Stamped their comeback with the exclamation point that you no doubt still remember. That series transformed Joey Bats into Joey Bat Flip.
Same story here. Down 0-2, rallied to win three in a row to take the series. One difference worth noting is that Toronto actually had a disadvantage here, in that they fell behind at home and had to go win on the road to get back in the series. That set up a dramatic conclusion.
Game 3: Martín Pérez started and lost for the Rangers, who scored only one run. Troy Tulowitzki had the big knock for the Jays.
Game 4: Toronto jumped out in front and it was 7-0 midway through the 3rd inning. The series headed back to Canada.
Game 5: The teams were knotted at 3-3 in the 7th inning when Bautista walked to the plate against trusty Rangers reliever Sam Dyson. What followed is one of those highlights that will be played in baseball circles for an awful long time.
Overcame trying circumstances against the red-hot Cleveland Indians. Not sure if this one will be any consolation to the Twins or to their fans.
The Indians won a ridiculous 22 consecutive games in August and September (remember that run?) and then won the first two games of the ALDS at home. That 0-2 start to the series for the Yankees included a back-breaker of a loss in 13 innings at Progressive Field, which at the time probably felt like a knockout punch. By comparison, you’d probably rather be the Twins right now.
But the Yankees got up, punched back and won the series, broken back and all.
Game 3: Masahiro Tanaka was good for 7 innings, the Yankees scored a run off elite reliever Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman logged a 5-out save to win, 1-0.
Game 4: New York scored 4 times off Trevor Bauer in the 2nd inning, Luis Severino was good enough for the Yankees, and despite what felt like 25 Tito Francona pitching changes, the Indians lost in Yankee Stadium to send the series back to Cleveland for the decisive Game 5.
Game 5: Didi Gregorious hit two home runs, including one in the 1st inning to get the scoring started. CC Sabathia started for New York, David Robertson was great in relief, and Chapman slammed the door shut with 2 scoreless innings to seal the save and the series.