Twins game goes on despite bridge tragedy

The show had to go on Wednesday, as much as some Twins didn't want it to.

After watching scenes from the Interstate 35W bridge collapse just moments before the scheduled first pitch, the Twins took the field and lost 5-3 to Kansas City in 10 innings. But there was little thought given to missing out on a chance to pick up a game on Cleveland in the wild-card race and Detroit in the AL Central.

What mattered was that the crowd of 24,880 stayed in the Metrodome and did not head out onto the nearby roads and highways, which would have snarled traffic for emergency crews rushing to the site of the tragedy to help with rescue.

So the Twins did their part.

"The ballgame had to played," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I don't think a lot of us wanted to be out there, but it was the right thing to do to make sure they could do their jobs out there and to keep the fans in here."

Today's series finale has been postponed and will be made up at a later date. And Twins president Dave St. Peter said Wednesday that the four-game series against Cleveland could be affected as well.

It was less than a half hour before game time Wednesday when Twins players learned of I-35W bridge collapse.

After looking at the scenes on television, everyone grabbed a cellphone.

Gardenhire, first base coach Jerry White and bench coach Steve Liddle drive over the bridge before and after every home game. Third base coach Scott Ullger just happened to drive over the bridge on Wednesday.

And although many Twins aren't from the area or don't take the bridge daily, they needed to check on family members. Who knew if a loved one had to run an errand on Wednesday and had to use the bridge?

"I couldn't get in touch with my wife until the fourth inning," Twins catcher Mike Redmond said. "So there was a little bit of anxiety there."

Torii Hunter had to be notified during that game that his wife had arrived to the ballpark safely.

The sense of tragedy gripped players more and more as the night went on and the Dome's public address announcer repeated alternate routes over and over.

"I don't know if people knew the severity," said Twins reliever Pat Neshek, who's from Brooklyn Park. "They don't really know the area. I knew it was a major road. I called my wife, and it kind of hit me hard. Because I have a lot of friends. Everybody does here.

"Baseball was probably the last thing on my mind. They asked them to play the game, I think. I was kind of surprised we did."

The Twins missed a few plays in the field that allowed Kansas City to stay in the game and push it to extra innings. Alex Gordon's two-run homer off Juan Rincon in the 10th ended the Twins' four-game winning streak.

After the game, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan addressed the team, explaining why the game had to be played. Players then showered and left for home, all feeling for those who were affected by the tragedy.

"We all feel like we are part of the community," Redmond said. "And we feel just like everyone else does."

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