Twins’ win streak hits 11 in a row as Chris Paddack dominates Red Sox

USATSI 23183406

MINNEAPOLIS — A catcher’s throwing error on a bunt attempt leading to a run. The pitch clock expiring on an opposing pitcher resulting in a bases-loaded walk.

These are the kinds of fortunate events that happen for teams on 11-game winning streaks. They weren’t happening for the Minnesota Twins 12 days ago, but they are now.

The Twins took advantage of two critical seventh-inning mistakes by the Boston Red Sox before Ryan Jeffers broke the game open with a two-run double, the latest late rally driving the Twins to a 5-2 victory Friday and extending their longest winning streak since the summer of 2006.

“You look at the last 31 games we’ve played, the first 15 didn’t really go our way,” said starter Chris Paddack, who threw six innings. “One-run ballgames, opposing teams getting knocks on 86 (mph) off the bat, bloopers. But the tables turned. And that’s just baseball. That’s why we play 162 games because it’s a roller coaster of events.”

Paddack struck out six and walked one, using his go-to changeup less than usual in favor of his new slider. The right-hander called it his best, most effective start since returning from his second Tommy John surgery.

“I wasn’t gonna be the guy who ended the streak,” Paddack said. “Made it personal out there.”

Saturday afternoon, the Twins will send Pablo López to the mound in search of the second-longest winning streak in team history.

This is tied for the third longest, matched by the 2006 and 2003 teams. Minnesota’s two longer winning streaks were 15 games in 1991 and 12 games in 1980. They won the World Series in 1991 and finished under .500 in 1980, so fans can choose to take that in whichever direction they prefer.

All but one of the 11 straight wins this season have come against the lowly Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels, so there’s no denying the Twins’ favorable schedule is playing a big role in their turnaround. However, the reality is that the majority of double-digit winning streaks by MLB teams come with favorable schedules.

It’s extremely rare for any team, no matter how good, to sweep three series in a row from playoff-bound opponents, and beating up on weak competition is a key part of any team’s success. For example, during the 15-game winning streak in 1991 — the memories of which have reached almost mythic levels — the Twins won just two games against above-.500 teams.

Both came versus the 82-80 Kansas City Royals, who placed sixth in a seven-team division. Nearly half of the streak, seven wins, came against a Cleveland team that finished a league-worst 57-105, and the Twins also won three games apiece versus the 95-loss Baltimore Orioles and 91-loss New York Yankees.

It’s natural to factor the quality of opponents into any discussion about the Twins’ current streak, but to dismiss the entire run because of that ignores the 1991 team doing basically the same thing. That’s how double-digit MLB winning streaks tend to happen.

In the Target Field era (since 2010), there have been 35 previous instances of an MLB team winning at least 11 consecutive games, or about 2 1/2 per season. In other words, odds are only one or two more teams will have a streak as long as the Twins’ run. There were no winning streaks of at least 11 games in 2014 or 2012 (and also 2020, but that was a shortened 60-game season).

And what happened to those 35 teams to win 11-plus games in a row since 2010? Thirty of them, or 86 percent, went on to make the playoffs. Nine of them, or 26 percent, advanced to the World Series. And three of them — the 2022 and 2017 Houston Astros and the 2016 Chicago Cubs — won the World Series.

Not all winning streaks are created equal, but winning 11 in a row tends to be a very good sign.

“I don’t think anybody in this clubhouse is counting what number we are on,” Jeffers said. “It’s fun winning baseball games and we keep doing it and finding different ways to win. We’re not winning the same way every time. We’re just playing good baseball.”

Their strong play continued on a difficult day during a trying period for the franchise.

Caught in a corporate stalemate between their broadcast partner and a dominant cable conglomerate that has left a huge chunk of their TV viewing audience in the dark, the Twins roster took two big hits before the game’s first pitch was delivered.

Earlier Friday, the Twins placed center fielder Byron Buxton and fireman reliever Brock Stewart on the injured list. Buxton went on the 10-day IL with right knee inflammation while Stewart was placed on the 15-day IL with right shoulder tendinitis.

Somehow, the Twins made it moot.

Paddack pitched his way out of a sticky situation in the first inning, escaping a second-and-third, no-out jam, and dominated a Boston offense that entered the game fourth in the American League in runs.

Following a rare Carlos Correa error and a Rafael Devers double, Paddack was up against it immediately. But instead of surrendering even a run, Paddack buckled down and got out of the inning without so much as a whimper from the heart of the Red Sox order.

Tyler O’Neill struck out, Wilyer Abreu popped out to shortstop and Garrett Cooper hit a 12-hopper to second baseman Edouard Julien for the final out.

“It’s not a turning point, it’s the very beginning of the game,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “But it’s an incredibly meaningful moment right there. Because he really picked up our club.”

Working with a heavy dosage of sliders and four-seam fastballs, Paddack generated 12 swings-and-misses in 83 pitches, which led to six strikeouts and only two hits and a walk allowed in six scoreless innings.

The Twins grabbed a one-run lead in the third inning on Julien’s two-out, seeing-eye single to left, and then let Paddack go to work.

With Boston’s Tanner Houck equally impressive, the Twins were forced to bide their time until the seventh.

Trevor Larnach and Carlos Santana each singled before Willi Castro, who finished with two hits, including a leadoff double in the third, dropped down a sacrifice bunt. Red Sox catcher Reese McGuire fielded the ball and tried to throw out Santana at second, but his attempt wound up in center field, which allowed pinch runner Austin Martin to score.

Boston reliever Naoyuki Uwasawa took over and walked José Miranda to load the bases. Uwasawa recorded an out but ran into trouble with Julien, who worked ahead in the count 3-1. As Uwasawa prepared to deliver his next pitch, plate ump Emil Jimenez ruled he violated the pitch clock, which resulted in a Julien walk and a 3-0 lead. Jeffers then broke the game open with a two-run double to left-center.

“It’s great,” said closer Jhoan Duran, who punctuated the victory with a one-two-three ninth inning. “I’ve never been in a streak winning games like that.”

(Photo of the Twins celebrating Friday’s win: Jesse Johnson / USA Today)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top