MINNEAPOLIS - Hang on to those Homer Hankies: The Metrodome isn’t ready to close for baseball 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 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.
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 its final four games. Minnesota won 16 of 20 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.
Alex Gordon homered for the Royals, who fell behind 8-1 but rallied to bring the tying run to the plate.
Minnesota was seven games down to the Tigers on Sept. 6 and appeared all but gone after falling four back with a loss at Detroit on Wednesday.
But the Twins rebounded to beat the Tigers on Thursday, swept Kansas City and got some help from the White Sox, who took two of three in Detroit.
“I guess it just says a little bit about the tenacity of this baseball team,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game. “They keep playing until the end. The fans want a full 162-game schedule and they’re getting it.”
And then some.
The Twins have been here before.
Last season they went to a one-game tiebreaker for the AL Central against the White Sox, losing a 1-0 heartbreaker in Chicago to miss out on postseason. That game was played in the Windy City because the White Sox won a coin flip, something that infuriated the Twins after they won the season series.
Major League Baseball changed the tiebreaker rule 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.
Players from Dome lore such as Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti and Frank Viola were in attendance for a farewell celebration of 28 weird, wacky and sometimes wonderful seasons under the roof.
It turns out they came one game too early.
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.
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.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
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.
So, to paraphrase the late, great Jack Buck’s call after Kirby Puckett’s game-winning homer in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series against Atlanta ...
And we’ll see ya Tuesday afternoon!
Notes: Royals head athletic trainer Nick Swartz worked his
last game. He is retiring after 21 years with the team and 33 in the organization. ... Twins SS Orlando Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 15 games with an infield single in the third. ... The last time the Twins had two players with multiple homers in the same game was July 12, 2001, against Milwaukee. Jacque Jones, Torii Hunter and Corey Koskie all went deep twice in that game.
HBT: Carlos Ruiz was lifted from Sunday afternoon’s game against the Reds after straining his right hamstring while running the bases in the bottom of the second inning.
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