MINNEAPOLIS – More than 51,000 fans and dozens of players from Metrodome lore turned out on Sunday to say goodbye to this big, dingy building after 28 weird, wacky and sometimes wonderful baseball seasons.
Hang on to those Homer Hankies: The Metrodome showed this weekend that it still has some of that old magic left and isn't ready to let the Minnesota Twins go just yet.
Jason Kubel got those familiar white towels waving with a pair of three-run homers and Minnesota beat Kansas City 13-4 Sunday, putting the Twins into a one-game playoff with the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central title.
"The place doesn't want to go away quietly yet," Kubel said.
The Twins and Tigers, who beat the White Sox 5-3, will meet at 4 p.m. CDT Tuesday with the division title and a postseason date with the New York Yankees going to the winner.
"When we need a win, where do we go?" former first baseman Kent Hrbek asked the fans during a postgame ceremony. "We go to the Dome."
They need one more.
Scott Baker will start the tiebreaker for the Twins against Detroit rookie Rick Porcello. The teams get a day off because the Minnesota Vikings host Green Bay on Monday night.
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.
"It's been fun to watch," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Just a group of guys that were on a mission."
Carl Pavano (14-12) pitched on three days' rest, g this season, giving home field to the team that won the head-to-head season series. The Twins went 11-7 against the Tigers this season, including 7-2 at the Metrodome.
"We've been in these games before," Cuddyer said. "We're not a stranger to big games."
Homer Hankies that first made the national scene with the Twins' run to the World Series title in 1987 were back on display, and 51,155 fans -- the largest crowd since opening day of 1993 -- got an early reason to use them.
Luke Hochevar (7-13) walked Denard Span, who stole second, to start the game. Then, with chants of "MVP! MVP!" raining down, he pitched around Joe Mauer with one out and first base open. Kubel followed with an upper deck homer to right field and, two batters later, Young hit a solo shot to make it 4-0.
"These guys got a lot of momentum going right now," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
Mauer went 0 for 3 and is hitting .364 for the season, all but assuring him of his second straight AL batting title and third in his career.
Kubel's second homer of the game landed just over leaping left fielder Willie Bloomquist's glove for a 7-0 lead. From then on, the crowd turned its eyes to the scoreboard, hoping the same White Sox that spoiled their season last year would help turn the day into a coronation.
Chants of "Let's go, White Sox!" filled the Dome, and one of the loudest roars of the day came when the scoreboard showed Chicago cutting Detroit's lead to 5-3. But the Tigers held on.
"We're happy to be here," closer Joe Nathan said. "A lot of people coming into September would have probably said there was no chance and I'm sure 99 percent of the people in Minnesota probably thought there was no chance either. So to be where we are, we've got a good feeling."