The Minnesota Twins will once again head home for the winter empty-handed after a season full of promise.
After a regular season in which they finished tied for the American League's second-best record, the Twins were swept by the sub-.500 Houston Astros in the wild-card series.
Minnesota scored just two runs over the two games and allowed the go-ahead run in Game 1 to score via a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning. It was a difficult result for one of baseball's most powerful regular-season teams.
"We weren't expecting this, you know?" designated hitter Nelson Cruz said, according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic. "I don't think anyone was really expecting it to end this way. I mean, like life, baseball is also tough, it's unpredictable."
The sweep extended an infamous run of playoff futility for the Twins, whose last postseason victory came in Game 1 of the 2004 ALDS. Minnesota's playoff losing streak - now at 18 games after Wednesday - is the longest in the four major North American professional sports leagues.
Manager Rocco Baldelli said he was unaware of the streak until arriving in Minnesota last season. Now that he's been in the dugout for the team's five most recent playoff defeats, Baldelli said he understands just how much it weighs on the franchise and its fans, but he's convinced the team can turn it around soon.
"We want to do better," he said, according to Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic. "We want to do better for ourselves, we want to do better for the organization, and we want to do better for all the fans, too."
He added: "I see no reason, and nothing stopping us, from having a ton of success the next time we get an opportunity to go and do this. We have all of the pieces, we have the right people, and I'll tell you what, this organization from top to bottom, is a group of people that, if you knew them, you would believe in them. Believe me."