It wasn't just the announced figure of 29,854 Tuesday night -- the smallest crowd in Twins history at Target Field. It was also how that size of a crowd looked and felt. Small. Small enough to provide a startling contrast between now and just two seasons ago (that picture is from the first regular-season game ever at the ballpark). Small enough that vast swaths of empty seats were easily spotted. Small enough to make us wonder what next year will be like if the losing continues.

The Twins offense looked lethargic, getting just one hit in the first six innings and slapping too many choppers and slow rollers to count. There was the briefest of flickers in the ninth inning, but the rally and the fans were extinguished quickly.

There is no perfect precedent to say what will happen in future seasons at Target Field in terms of attendance. Cleveland, which fielded a consistent winner after opening its new ballpark, had eight consecutive seasons averaging 39,000 fans or more. Then the Indians started losing, and it dropped to 32K and 21K in the next two seasons -- a sharp drop, to be sure. It's never bounced back beyond 29,000 since then, despite a playoff season. San Francisco has never gone below 35K in its new park despite some rough seasons. Pittsburgh never really got the boost from its park despite all its beauty because for almost all the time there the Pirates have been awful.

The Twins had to compete with back-to-school thoughts and the State Fair on Tuesday. The Mariners aren't the most interesting opponent, either. But they couldn't sell the product to 30,000 people on a gorgeous summer night. Unless the product improves, we could be reading "smallest crowd in Target Field history" a lot more more this season and beyond.