More than 51,000 fans and dozens of players from Metrodome lore turned out yesterday to say goodbye to this big, dingy building after 28 weird, wacky, and wonderful baseball seasons.
Hang on to those Homer Hankies: The Metrodome showed this weekend that it still has some of that old magic left.
Jason Kubel got those white towels waving with a pair of three-run homers as Minnesota beat Kansas City, 13-4, putting the Twins into a one-game playoff with Detroit for the AL Central title.
The Twins and Tigers, who beat the White Sox, 5-3, will meet at 5 p.m. tomorrow with the division title and a postseason date with the Yankees going to the winner.
Scott Baker will start the tiebreaker for the Twins against 20-year-old rookie Rick Porcello.
“He’s been young all year and he pitched awful good against Minnesota the other day,’’ Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I know one thing for a fact - he will not be scared. He’ll be excited.’’
The teams get a day off because the Minnesota Vikings host Green Bay tonight. Detroit is hoping to win its first division title since 1987.
Delmon Young added two solo home runs and Michael Cuddyer also went deep for the Twins, who overcame a three-game deficit by winning 16 of 20, including the final four, to reach the playoff.
Carl Pavano (14-12) pitched on three days’ rest, giving up four runs and striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings in what was supposed to be the final regular-season baseball game in the Metrodome. The Twins move outside to Target Field next year, but they’re more than happy to keep playing under the shabby white roof for the time being.
Earlier in Detroit, Justin Verlander (19-9) pitched into the eighth inning, Ryan Raburn hit two homers, and Fernando Rodney got the final four outs for his 37th save in 38 chances.
Angels 5, Athletics 3 - Mike Napoli hit his 20th homer and Joe Saunders (16-7) pitched five strong innings as visiting Los Angeles prepped for the postseason with a sweep of Oakland.
Yankees 10, Rays 2 - Alex Rodriguez homered twice and drove in an AL-record seven runs in a 10-run sixth to help playoff-bound New York finish the season with a victory at Tampa Bay.
Rodriguez hit a three-run homer off Wade Davis, giving the AL East champions a 3-2 lead. He added his 18th career grand slam later in the inning after Andy Sonnanstine issued an intentional walk to Mark Teixeira to load the bases.
The major league record for RBIs in an inning is eight, set by Fernando Tatis, who hit two grand slams in an inning for St. Louis April 23, 1999.
Rodriguez moved into a tie with Mark McGwire for eighth on the career list with 583 homers. It also gave him at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs for the 13th time - including the past 12 seasons.
Brewers 9, Cardinals 7 - Prince Fielder homered twice and Jody Gerut’s two-out infield hit drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning as visiting Milwaukee sent St. Louis scuffling to the postseason.
Fielder ended with 46 homers, one behind Albert Pujols for the NL lead, and drove in three runs to tie Ryan Howard for the major league RBI title at 141.
Pujols won his first NL homer title despite going without a long ball in his last 79 at-bats since Sept. 9. He finished second to Hanley Ramirez (.342) with a .327 average, and was third with 135 RBIs.
Pujols also set the major league record for assists by a first baseman, getting his 185th of the year, topping the record set by the Red Sox’ Bill Buckner in 1985.
In other games, Vicente Padilla (4-0) struck out 10 in five innings as the Dodgers, who finally clinched the NL West title Saturday night, beat visiting Colorado, 5-3 . . . Randy Johnson made what could be the last appearance of his 22-year big league career, pitching one adventuresome inning of relief in San Francisco’s 4-3 win in San Diego in 10 innings. Johnson struck out two, increasing his career total to 4,875 . . . Felix Hernandez finished tied for the major league lead with 19 wins as host Seattle beat Texas, 4-3. Hernandez finished with a 2.49 ERA, second in the AL to the 2.16 of Kansas City’s Zack Greinke . . . Alberto Gonzalez drove in the winning run with a two-out single in the 15th inning as visiting Washington beat Atlanta, 2-1, to close the season with a seven-game winning streak - and still finished with baseball’s worst record (59-103) . . . Nelson Figueroa pitched a four-hitter for his first major league complete game as the Mets finished a three-game sweep of visiting Houston with a 4-0 win . . . Doug Davis (9-14) allowed six hits in eight innings as Arizona beat the Cubs in Chicago, 5-2 . . . Rookie Michael Aubrey scored the winning run on Brandon League’s second throwing error on a bunt in the 11th inning, giving host Baltimore a 5-4 victory over Toronto . . . Paul Hoover hit a game-ending RBI single in the 10th inning as the defending World Series champion Phillies prepared for their title defense with a 7-6 victory over the visiting Marlins . . . Brandon Phillips - the lone Cincinnati regular who avoided the DL in 2009 - drove in three runs and Homer Bailey shut out Pittsburgh for six innings for the host Reds in their 6-0 win.