Cleveland (79-82) at Minnesota (92-69)

  • Game info: 2:10 pm EDT Sun Oct 3, 2004
  • TV: FSOH, FSNO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Minnesota Twins were treated like a team playing out the string, instead of one battling for homefield advantage in next week’s playoffs.

After being chased off their own field in the 11th inning for a college football game Saturday, Minnesota will return to action and complete its regular season-ending three-game series with the Cleveland Indians at the Metrodome.

While the Twins have already locked up their third straight AL Central title, they still aren’t sure whether they’ll begin next week’s playoffs at home or on the road. After taking the series opener 4-3 on Friday, Minnesota was locked in a 5-5 tie with Cleveland in the 11th inning Saturday when the game was suspended so that workers could set up the Metrodome for that evening’s college football game between Minnesota and Penn State.

“This is a big game,” baseball commissioner Bud Selig said from Seattle. “It decides who goes where in the playoffs. I’ve done other commenting on the Metrodome. I’ll want to talk to Minnesota, but it’s not a good situation.”

The Twins didn’t hide their displesure with the move, which forced them to win twice on Sunday and hope that AL West champion Anaheim loses to Oakland in order to earn homefield in the opening round against wild card-winner Boston.

If the Twins lose either game Sunday, they will head to AL East champion New York for their playoff opener Tuesday. Last year, Minnesota met the Yankees in the opening round and lost in four games after taking the series opener in New York.

“We battle our butts off and then it’s over,” exclaimed center fielder Torii Hunter. “That’s terrible.”

“We’re in the middle of a mess now,” added manager Ron Gardenhire, who couldn’t contain his anger. “We don’t need a stadium? C’mon.”

The Twins posted a message on the big screen when the game went to extra innings that no inning could start after 2:30 p.m. As soon as Justin Morneau grounded out to end the 11th inning at 2:33, the seats emptied and the makeover began.

“I didn’t even know anything about it,” said Minnesota outfielder Lew Ford, who had a season-high four hits and three runs scored. “When everyone started walking off the field I thought they were kidding at first. I guess the crowd knew, though, because they all left immediately.”

The game will pick up in the top of the 12th and the season finale will follow after its completion.

Gardenhire isn’t sure who will start the regularly scheduled game. If the Twins win the suspended contest, he’ll likely send Kyle Lohse to the mound in the hopes of securing homefield advantage. But if the Twins lose the opener, rookies J.D. Durbin or Matt Guerrier are the other options. The Angels and A’s won’t start until 4 p.m. EDT.

“It’s a pretty crazy situation,” said Lohse, who won’t know whether or not he is starting until the first game is completed.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Lee Phi vs. K. Lohse Mil
14-8 Record 9-13
5.43 ERA 5.34
161 K 111
81 BB 76
1.50 WHIP 1.63