Carlos Correa had an RBI single and a quick-twitch tag on a pivotal pickoff throw from Sonny Gray, and the Twins swept the Toronto Blue Jays with a 2-0 win in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series on Wednesday.
“Everything is October. The mentality is different. I’m just giving everything out there, everything I have,” Correa said. “I’m going to keep doing that for the rest of the time that I’m here in Minnesota.”
The Twins advanced – for the first time in 21 years – to play the defending World Series champion Houston Astros. Game 1 of the best-of-five AL Division Series is in Houston on Saturday.
That’s familiar territory for Correa, who spent seven seasons with the Astros. He signed with Minnesota in 2022 and re-upped for $200m this year after agreed-to deals with the Giants and Mets fell apart over concerns about an old ankle injury.
Correa helped Houston reach three World Series, winning it all in 2017, and he’s one round into another memorable October.
“They’ve got a great team, and so do we,” Correa said. “Everywhere you look, we’re ready.”
The Blue Jays, who lost their seventh straight game in the playoffs since the AL Championship Series in 2016, left nine runners on base in each game. Matt Chapman had a line drive hook just foul before grounding into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the sixth against Caleb Thielbar.
“One run in two games, one extra-base hit isn’t going to cut it,” Toronto manager John Schneider said.
Minnesota, after stopping a record 18-game postseason skid with the 3-1 win in Game 1, ended a nine-round losing streak that started with an ALCS defeat in 2002. The Atlanta Braves (2001-2019) and Chicago Cubs (1910-1998) share the all-time mark with 10 straight series lost.
Elsewhere, the Tampa Bay Rays were quickly dispatched from the postseason for the third straight year.
The Texas Rangers advanced to an AL Division Series by beating the Rays 7-1 for a two-game sweep. The potent offense that spearheaded Tampa Bay to first place from opening day through mid-July faded down the stretch.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Curtis Mead’s seventh-inning RBI single stopped Tampa Bay’s 33-inning postseason scoreless streak dating to last year. The streak was the second longest in MLB history, trailing only the Los Angeles Dodgers 34-inning run from 1966-74. Tampa Bay have hit .161 in four playoff games over two years.
“I’m glad we scored a run because if not we’d have been talking about that a lot,” Cash said. “Look, our bats just didn’t come to life.”
In Milwaukee, Zac Gallen settled down after a shaky start and Arizona’s bullpen stepped up at the very end, helping the Diamondbacks sweep their NL Wild Card Series against the Brewers with a 5-2 victory in Game 2. Just two years after suffering through a 110-loss season, Arizona moved into the franchise’s first NL Division Series since 2017. The Diamondbacks will take on the NL West champion Dodgers in the opener of their best-of-five series on Saturday in Los Angeles. The NL Central champion Brewers have dropped nine of their last 10 playoff games, a stretch that started with their Game 7 home loss to the Dodgers in the 2018 NL Championship Series.
In Wednesday’s final game, last season’s World Series runners-up, the Philadelphia Phillies, completed their two-game sweep of the Miami Marlins with a 7-1 victory. They will face their NL East rivals, the Atlanta Braves, in the next round.