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TWINS PEAK — Minnesota sweeps Toronto, reaches MLB playoffs

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - OCTOBER 04: Ryan Jeffers #27 of the Minnesota Twins slides safe at first base against Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays during the seventh inning in Game Two of the Wild Card Series at Target Field on October 04, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Adam Bettcher/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Adam Bettcher / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The Minnesota Twins won a Major League Baseball playoff series for the first time in more than two decades Wednesday, beating Toronto 2-0 to sweep their best-of-three wild card set.

The Twins lined up a best-of five Division Series against the World Series champion Astros, starting on Saturday in Houston.

The Texas Rangers also advanced in the American League with home runs from Adolis Garcia and rookie Evan Carter fueling a 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

In the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies set up a showdown with the top-seeded Atlanta Braves after beating the Miami Marlins 7-1 to complete a 2-0 series win.

Bryson Stott crushed a grand slam in the sixth inning to seal Philadelphia’s victory.

The Arizona Diamondbacks meanwhile will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the divisional series after downing the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 in another series sweep.

The Twins wrapped up their first playoff series win since they beat the Oakland Athletics in the AL Division Series in 2002.

With nine straight playoff series defeats they had become a byword for post-season futility, but that streak ended a day after they ended a playoff skid that stood at 18 games — the longest such slump in any major North American sports league.

“It feels amazing,” said shortstop Carlos Correa, who drove in a run with the bases loaded to open the scoring in the fourth inning.

Max Kepler then scored on Willi Castro’s ground out and that would be all the offense Minnesota needed.

“To get that first win in a long time yesterday, it was special,” Correa said. “But to get this win right here and move on to the next round, it feels amazing.”

Toronto left eight runners on base, stranding multiple runners in the first, second, fifth and sixth innings.

The Blue Jays had two runners on the fifth when Twins pitcher Sonny Gray picked off Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at second base to end the inning.

Correa will be in familiar territory when the Twins travel to Houston. He played for the Astros for seven seasons, helping them reach three World Series and win one in 2017 before signing with the Twins as a free agent.

At Tampa Bay, Rangers pitcher Nathan Eovaldi allowed six hits with eight strike outs and no walks over 6 2/3 innings in his third win over the Rays this year.

Garcia launched a four-run fourth inning with a 416-foot leadoff homer against Tampa Bay pitcher Zach Eflin.

Josh Jung drove in a run with a triple and Carter hit a two-run homer to right field for the Rangers.

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