The longest postseason losing streak in the history of North American pro sports has reached 17 games. Tuesday afternoon at Target Field, the Minnesota Twins turned an early lead into a 4-1 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series (box score). Houston is one win away from advancing to the ALDS.

Minnesota took a 1-0 lead on Nelson Cruz’s third-inning double against Zack Greinke. The Astros rallied to tie the game on George Springer’s single in the seventh, then Jose Altuve drew a bases-loaded walk against Sergio Romo to give Houston a 2-1 lead in the ninth. Michael Brantley plated two insurance runs with a single later in the inning.

It should be noted Romo had what should have been the final out of the ninth inning when he got Springer to hit a ground ball to short, but Jorge Polanco’s throw to second pulled Luis Arraez off the bag, and allowed the inning to continue. Altuve and Brantley made Polanco and the Twins pay for the error. 

“We didn’t give ourselves enough room to work,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters, including MLB Daily Dish’s Andersen Pickard, following the Game 1 loss. “In a tight situation, anything you’re not going to execute comes back to bite you and that’s what happened in today’s game.”  

Aside from Springer and Altuve, the hero of the Game 1 win for the Astros was Framber Valdez. The southpaw relieved Greinke in the fifth inning and retired of the 14 of the 18 batters he faced. He allowed two hits in his five scoreless innings. Greinke was very shaky. Valdez settled the game down and gave the offense a chance to rally, and rally they did.

Tuesday’s loss set a new North American postseason losing streak record, breaking a tie with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago lost 16 straight playoff games from 1975-79. The second-longest postseason losing streak in baseball history belongs to the Red Sox, who lost 13 straight from 1986-95. That losing streak started with the Bill Buckner game.

Here are the longest postseason losing streaks in North American sports, according to YES Network researcher James Smyth:

  1. Minnesota Twins: 17 games (2004 to present)
  2. Chicago Blackhawks: 16 games (1975-79)
  3. Detroit Pistons: 14 games (2008 to present)
  4. Los Angeles Kings: 14 games (1993-2001)
  5. Several tied at 13 games

As noted by MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, 27 of the other 29 MLB teams have won a postseason game since the Twins last won one. The Mariners (haven’t reached the postseason since 2001) and Marlins (reached the postseason for the first time since 2003 this year) are the two exceptions. Since then 18 teams have won at least 10 postseason games and 10 have won at least 20.

The Twins have not won a postseason game since Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS. Their starting pitcher that day was Johan Santana. Thirteen of these 17 consecutive postseason losses have come against the Yankees (2004 ALDS, 2009 ALDS, 2010 ALDS, 2017 Wild Card Game, 2019 ALDS), three have come against the Athletics (2006 ALDS), and now one against the Astros.

Minnesota and Houston will play Game 2 of this best-of-three series Wednesday afternoon. The Astros have not yet announced their starting pitcher but it is expected to be Jose Urquidy after Valdez pitched in relief. Jose Berrios will try to keep the Twins alive.

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