The 1991 season has been on the minds of Twins followers this year. Not only is 2021 the anniversary of the last men’s Minnesota professional sports club to win a championship (and the reunion of that bunch scheduled for mid-August), but the idea that the ‘91 team sat at a middling 20-24 in late May before turning on the jets has been appealing. If that squad could turn things around, why not this ‘21 crew—right?
Unfortunately, that pipe dream ended earlier this week, when the Twins dropped two of three to a Baltimore Orioles team that had lost 14 straight contests. It was a bit ironic that a significant streak involving the Twins & Orioles came to end in Charm City, seeing as how a similar scenario played out in 1991.
On June 1, 1991, the Minnesota Twins were 23-25 in the midst of a series against the Kansas City Royals. Certainly not a horrible club, to be sure, but nothing special. After winning that day’s game—and the next—to take the KC series, however, a remarkable thing happened: the Twins just kept winning. 5 games—8 games—10 games—12 games—15 games. For the entire first half of June, T.K.’s bunch always got to shake hands after the last out.
On June 17, the Twins pulled into Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium (one year before Camden Yards sprung forth) looking for consecutive win number 16. Though the pitching matchup of Allan Anderson & Bob Milacki was a bit shaky for both squads, the Twins seemed well on their way to continue streaking. After runs in the 7th (Kirby double, Hrbie single) and 8th (Newman single scoring Gladden), all-star closer Rick Aguilera jogged in from the pen to protect a 5-3 lead.
Aggie was immediately “greeted” by base knocks from David Segui & Brady Anderson. Gulp. But after a sacrifice bunt—this was pre-analytics baseball, remember—and a sacrifice fly, the O’s were still down by a run with two outs recorded (albeit the tying run on 2nd).
Kelly made the decision to intentionally walk Cal Ripken, Jr.—probably a smart move considering the iron man shortstop was well on his way to an AL MVP award. But it did put the winning run on base, so the gamble was avoiding any extra-base hits.
Sadly, on a 1-2 offering from Aguilera, Oriole batter Randy Milligan did exactly that—driving a ball deep into the left-centerfield gap that Puckett couldn’t flag down, scoring two and ending the Twins’ immaculate June.
A brief summary of The Streak—and that fateful Baltimore evening—can be seen here.
Of course, such a sustained hot streak propelled the Twins to the top of the AL West—a position they would never relinquish the rest of the season. Perhaps the worst part of the streak ending in walk-off fashion? The Twins would win four more contests afterwards. It could have been 20 straight!
Thus far, the 2021 Twins have been the antithesis of 1991, starting the month of June 0-4. Somewhat remarkably—considering expectations—11 more in the loss column doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. Either way, here’s to the next odd streak involving Minnesota & Baltimore in 2051.