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Losing Streak Flashback

With last night's defeat at the hands of the Seattle Mariners, the Minnesota Twins have now lost ten consecutive games. To realize how long it's been since the last ten-game losing streak, we have to go back to 1998. Many of us will recall those heady days of miniature payrolls and no-name lineups, busted prospects and tread-water veterans taking up many a roster spot.

Here's your starting lineup for the day of that tenth loss, on September 19, 1998.

Otis Nixon, CF
Todd Walker, 2B
Paul Molitor, DH
Matt Lawton, RF
Ron Coomer, 3B
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B
Marty Cordova, LF
Terry Steinbach, C
Pat Meares, SS

Brad Radke, P

Mientkiewicz was making his Major League debut at age 24, and would play in seven more games down the stretch in lieu of David Ortiz and Coomer, who had seen the most time at first base. Walker was having a breakout season at second base, a pleasant surprise after the departure of Chuck Knoblauch. Meares was in the final of six seasons with the Twins, and the oft-injured Nixon was wrapping up his only season in Minnesota. The starter was 25-year old Brad Radke, who was unable to duplicate his 20-win season of 1997.

There are some interesting parallels from that loss in 1998 to the general malaise of this year's club. Here's where my head went when I checked the box score:

  • The starting pitcher, in spite of being fully capable of pitching well, did not. After leading 3-1 and 5-3, Radke was responsible for three runs in the bottom of the sixth to give the Detroit Tigers a 6-5 lead.
  • A cadre of unimposing relief pitchers strung together three scoreless innings in relief.
  • The Twins managed to tie the game in the eighth, and score the go-ahead run in the top of the tenth.
  • In the bottom of the tenth, Minnesota's established closer gave up a walk-off, two-run bomb, allowing the Twins to knock themselves off 7-6.

Of course, that 1998 Twins team turned around and won their following game. Can the Twins do the same tonight? Back in '98, if the Twins didn't win, at least we had the Vikings and their unbelieveable offense to distract us. If our present incarnation of the team can't put a stop to that streak, we don't have that luxury.

And we'll have to go back even further into Twins history to find the last 11-game losing streak.