In early October 1987, the Twin Cities became a Twins town for the first time in a long time.
The Vikings were enmeshed in the 1987 NFL labor strife and were about to lose three consecutive games while their replacement players did the work. The North Stars were in the beginning stages of an awful season in which they would win just 19 games. The Gophers football team was about to take a promising 5-0 start and run it into the ground with four straight losses. The Timberwolves, Lynx and Minnesota United? They did not exist.
But the Twins? On Oct. 7, 33 years ago Wednesday night, they played in the postseason for the first time in 17 years. And nobody would have guessed it at the time, but their 8-5 victory over Detroit that night was the beginning of a wild ride that culminated in the Twins’ first World Series title.
Some nuggets from the time:
*The Twins scored 34 runs in defeating the favored Tigers 4 games to 1 in the ALCS. So in those five games, they scored more runs than the Twins have scored in their 15 most recent postseason games (33 runs combined, all losses).
*Between Oct. 7 (playoff opener) and Oct. 25 (Game 7 of the World Series), the Twins won eight games. The Vikings, Gophers football and North Stars won a combined four games.
*The Twins had home field advantage for the ALCS, which I did not remember. I knew they rotated between leagues as to which got home field for the World Series back then. I did not realize that until 1998 home field advantage also alternated in the league championship series.
It’s absolutely bonkers to me that a team that won 13 fewer games (Twins had 85, Tigers had 98) was given home field advantage, but the Twins used it to great effect. They went 2-0 at the dome against the Tigers (Games 1 and 2), then won 2 of 3 in Detroit. The Twins of course then went 4-0 at home against the Cardinals at home in the Series, where they again were the inferior regular-season team (St. Louis went 95-67 that year, 10 games better than the Twins).
It was quite the reward for a team that went 56-25 at home on the bouncy Metrodome carpet and 29-52 on the road.
And it’s a good reminder that the home field advantage — at least in the postseason — the Twins used to enjoy has completely evaporated. Not only have they lost 18 consecutive playoff games overall, but they have lost 13 consecutive playoff games at home (eight at the dome, five at Target Field).
The last Twins home playoff win? Oct. 8, 2002 in Game 1 of the ALCS. Joe Mays threw eight innings in a 2-1 win. That was 18 years ago Thursday.