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History

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TWINS TIMELINE
1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-Present
Timeline
   
October 6, 2002: The Twins celebrate after taking a 5-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the deciding Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series at Network Associates Coliseum. The win advanced Minnesota to the AL Championship Series.
2000  - Despite finishing 69-93 — the fourth straight 90-loss season — the new foundation continued to solidify. At the plate, Matt Lawton hit .305 and made his first All-Star team; Corey Koskie impressed with a .300 batting/.400 on-base campaign; Jacque Jones showed glimpses of all-around stardom, hitting .285 with 19 home runs while playing a sterling outfield; and shortstop Cristian Guzman, who continued to dazzle with the glove, led the Majors with 20 triples.

On the mound, veteran LaTroy Hawkins may have found his true calling as a closer. He accumulated 14 saves and finished with a career-best 3.39 ERA. Eric Milton, who led the Twins with 13 victories, signed a four-year deal with the club after the season, ensuring the Twins a formidable 1-2 starter combo with Brad Radke.

2001  - The promising pieces finally came together to give Minnesota its first winning record since 1992. The Twins surprised many by getting off to a 14-3 start and led the AL Central division for much of the season. They were locked in a tight battle with the Cleveland Indians for a playoff berth before eventually finishing in second place with an 85-77 record - six games out of first.

Many players emerged to have breakout seasons. Center fielder Torii Hunter hit a team leading 27 home runs and earned his first AL Gold Glove Award. After spending the whole season in the minors in 2000, first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz also earned a Gold Glove while batting .306. Pitcher Joe Mays was a 17-game winner and earned a spot on the AL All-Star team along with pitcher Eric Milton and shortstop Cristian Guzman. Third baseman Corey Koskie led the club with 103 RBIs while also smacking 26 homers.

The strong season also marked the end of an era. After 15-plus seasons in the dugout and two World Championships as manager, Tom Kelly retired from the Twins Oct. 12, 2001. Kelly managed 2,385 games, winning 1,140 while being ejected only five times.

2002  - Led by new manager Ron Gardenhire, the Twins had to overcome threats of contraction and a late summer strike along with a lineup and rotation often racked with injuries. But with a never-say-die attitude always on display, Minnesota posted a 94-67 record and ran away with the AL Central title by 13 ½ games over the second-place White Sox. It was the Twins' first postseason berth since 1991.

For the second straight season, Torii Hunter led the club in home runs, with 29, and had 94 RBIs. He also took home his second consecutive Gold Glove Award for his tremendous play on defense. Gardenhire moved Jacque Jones to the leadoff spot and he responded by belting 27 homers, including 11 to lead off a game, and 85 RBIs.

On the mound, injuries to starters Brad Radke, Eric Milton and Joe Mays decimated the rotation. Fortunately, Rick Reed carried the staff in the second half, going 9-2 down the stretch en route to an overall 15-7 record. The bullpen was considered the weakest link entering the season and emerged as one of baseball's best. First-year closer Eddie Guardado established a new club record with 45 saves. Set-up men J.C. Romero and LaTroy Hawkins were also sensational in the late innings.

Hunter, Guardado and catcher A.J. Pierzynski were named to the AL squad at the All-Star game in Milwaukee. Hunter was voted by the fans to start and rewarded their choice by robbing Barry Bonds of a home run with a phenomenal leap at the fence.

The Twins also made plenty of noise in the postseason, defeating the heavily favored Oakland Athletics in the deciding fifth game of the American League Division Series. Pierzynski hit .438 in the series and provided a key two-run home run in the Game 5 victory. Radke was back in form for the postseason and picked up two ALDS victories.

In the American League Championship Series, Minnesota faced a red-hot Anaheim Angels club. After winning Game 1 of the series at home with the help of a nearly flawless eight-inning pitching performance by Mays, the Twins dropped the next four games to give Anaheim its first American League title.

Besides Hunter's Gold Glove, the Twins earned other awards and honors. The organization was named Baseball America's and SportsTicker's Organization of the Year and General Manager Terry Ryan was named Executive of the Year by The Sporting News. Gardenhire was third in AL Manager of the Year voting.

2003  - Repeating as American League Central champions was the main mission for the 2003 Twins, and it was accomplished. But the ultimate objective of reaching and winning the World Series remained elusive for Minnesota.

After dominating their division during a 94-win 2002 season, the 2003 campaign was filled with several high and low moments, but the Twins remained persistent and won a respectable 90 games.

Closer Eddie Guardado was selected to his second consecutive All-Star Game.

The Twins met the Yankees in the AL Division Series and posted a Game 1 victory at Yankee Stadium. New York won the next three games and claimed the series in four games.

Torii Hunter's spectacular defensive play was again rewarded when the center fielder earned his third consecutive AL Gold Glove Award.

The year will also be remembered as being the last hurrah for a few longtime veteran players, who were bid farewell after the season.

2004  -

The Twins made it three in a row by taking the American League Central again with a 92-70 record -- nine games ahead of the second-place White Sox.

This time, the cast of characters was different -- with players like Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, A.J. Pierzynski and Eric Milton with new clubs and Doug Mientkiewicz dealt at the trading deadline. But several new faces stepped in or stepped up. First-year closer Joe Nathan owned the ninth inning with 44 saves. Outfielder Lew Ford came up from Triple-A the first week and helped carry the offense. Fans also got to know Justin Morneau, Henry Blanco and Juan Rincon.

And no one will forget the dominance of lefty Johan Santana, who went 20-6 with a 2.61 ERA to bring a Cy Young Award to Minnesota for the first time since 1988. Torii Hunter continued his defensive brilliance, earning his fourth consecutive AL Gold Glove Award.

It wasn't all smooth -- hometown native and former overall No. 1 pick Joe Mauer's highly anticipated rookie season was limited to 35 games because of a left knee injury and several other regular players spent time on the disabled list.

A successful season came to an abrupt ending when the Yankees eliminated the Twins in the American League Division Series in four games for the second consecutive year.

2005  -

Coming off three straight American League Central titles, the Twins were highly favored to make it four straight, but injuries and a struggling offense resulted in a third-place finish, 16 games behind the eventual World Series champion White Sox. After starting out strong with a 15-8 record in April, it was a downhill struggle the rest of the season.

The pitching, highlighted by All-Stars Johan Santana (16-7, 2.87 ERA, 238 strikeouts in 231 2/3 innings) and Joe Nathan (43 saves in 47 chances, 2.70 ERA), kept the Twins in games. However, no other starter won 10 games as former ace Brad Radke and Carlos Silva each posted nine victories. Jesse Crain ranked second in wins with 12 and posted a 2.71 ERA out of the bullpen.

Offensively, Joe Mauer led the team in batting average (.294) in his first full season, while Jacques Jones hit a team-leading 24 homers, but finished with a .249 average. Justin Morneau belted 22 dingers despite hitting just .239. Matt LeCroy chipped in with 17 homers in part-time duty.

One of the biggest injuries the club suffered was when Torii Hunter, who carried the offense most of the year and finished with 14 homers, 56 RBIs and 23 steals, went down with a fractured foot on July 28 at Fenway Park. The injury all but sealed the Twins' fate, as they were several games back at the time. Despite being limited to just 98 games, Hunter took home his fifth consecutive AL Gold Glove Award for his stellar play in center field.

2006  -

The Twins overcame a rough first two months of the season where they trailed by as many as 12.5 games, to capture their fourth American Central title in the past five seasons. A streak of winning 22 of 24 games toward the end of June helped propel them into a tight race down the stretch with the Tigers. But despite not leading the division a single day during the season, the Twins walked away with the division title after they won the final game of the year.

Joe Mauer hit .347 to become the first American League catcher to win a batting title. Johan Santana earned his second AL Cy Young award in the past three seasons as he led the Majors with a 2.77 ERA, 19 wins and 245 strikeouts. And Justin Morneau became the first Twin to hit 30 home runs since 1987 en route to earning AL MVP honors.

2007  -

After winning the AL Central the previous season and returning nearly their entire roster, the Twins were once again considered a strong contender for another division title. But injuries, an unstable pitching rotation and some offensive woes led the Twins to a third-place finish and their first losing season (79-83) since Ron Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002.

Catcher Joe Mauer was unable to defend his batting title as he was plagued by numerous leg injuries that limited his time on the field. Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter provided the highlights offensively. Morneau backed up his AL MVP '06 season by leading the Twins with 31 home runs and 111 RBIs. Hunter had a team-high 45 doubles while hitting .287 with a career-high 107 RBIs.

Johan Santana once again led the Twins rotation, recording 15 wins and posting a 3.33 ERA. The left-handed ace also set a Twins record for strikeouts in a game with 17 against the Rangers on Aug. 19, 2007. However, the rest of the Twins rotation saw its share of upheaval, including veteran additions Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson who didn't last past May.

The bullpen was also hit by the injury bug as Jesse Crain, Glen Perkins and Dennys Reyes all went down with injuries on the same roadtrip in May. Pat Neshek delivered a stellar first half, posting a 1.70 ERA while earning All-Star consideration. Closer Joe Nathan was the 'pen's anchor yet again as he recorded 37 saves, marking his fourth straight seasons of 35-plus saves.

2008  -

The Twins overcame a rough first two months of the season where they trailed by as many as 12.5 games, to capture their fourth American Central title in the past five seasons. A streak of winning 22 of 24 games toward the end of June helped propel them into a tight race down the stretch with the Tigers. But despite not leading the division a single day during the season, the Twins walked away with the division title after they won the final game of the year.

It was a season that was reminiscent of 2006 - at least when it came to the production of the team's M&M boys. Joe Mauer bounced back from his injury-plagued 2007 season and once again led the American League with his .328 batting average, becoming only the second catcher in Major League history to win two batting titles. Justin Morneau delivered another MVP-worthy performance, leading the team with 23 home runs and 129 RBIs. Carlos Gomez, Denard Span and Alexi Casilla added some speed and base stealing threats to the lineup. And The Twins showed that focusing on speed rather than power in the lineup could work, as they scored 829 runs (third most in franchise history).

The Twins rotation might have been the biggest surprise. The Twins' relatively inexperienced starting staff, which for most of the second half featured five starters age 26 or younger, was a large part of the club's success. Five starters finished with double-digit wins.

Late-inning bullpen woes proved costly toward the end of the season for the Twins. The relief corps was 5-15 after Aug. 4. But there were some bright spots. Joe Nathan proved once again why he's considered to be one of the best closers in the game, posting a 1.33 ERA and tallying 39 saves.

1960-1969 | 1970-1979 | 1980-1989 | 1990-1999 | 2000-Present