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10/12/09 2:57 AM ET

Twins say bye to Dome the hard way

Minnesota falls to New York in final game at ballpark

MINNEAPOLIS -- After the Yankees finished celebrating their series-clinching victory over the Twins on Sunday, Minnesota closer Joe Nathan walked back out to the Metrodome mound one last time.

Nathan, who struck out two batters in the ninth inning in Sunday's 4-1 loss, wanted something to remember the Dome by. So the All-Star closer took a handful of dirt from the same mound he saved so many games on, with the intention of bringing it over to the new Target Field next season.

"It's kind of bittersweet. We play well here, but I also know how many days I walked in here and kind of just got deflated, because it's nice outside and you'd like to be outside," Nathan said. "But we also know this place has treated us great, and so that's why I wanted to bring a little piece of this place over and start a new chapter."

Twins fans cheered Nathan, who saved a franchise-best 47 games this season, as he collected the dirt, catching him a bit off guard.

"Honestly, I thought they might have been cheering something else," Nathan said. "I didn't know they were cheering me picking up the dirt. It was still right at the end of the game."

On Tuesday night, jubilation and champagne filled the Twins' clubhouse after they defeated the Detroit Tigers in a one-game tiebreaker to earn a postseason bid. There was no celebrating Sunday, however, following the three-run loss to New York that ended Minnesota's season.

Instead, players shook hands and exchanged hugs, thanking each other for the season they spent together.

"We've got to hold our heads up. We had a good season," Twins outfielder Denard Span said. "We did the unthinkable. We did what a lot of people never gave us a chance to do. I'd just like to commend everybody, all 25 guys on this team. We have nothing to be upset about."

Metrodome Lasts
The following chronicles final events of the Metrodome's baseball history.
Event Player(s)
Ceremonial first pitch Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek
First pitch Carl Pavano vs. Derek Jeter, for a strike
Player to hit speakers Jason Kubel, 10/6
Ball lost in roof Orlando Cabrera, 10/4
Stolen base Denard Span
Hit Michael Cuddyer
Double Nick Punto
Triple Matt Tolbert, 10/2
Home run Jorge Posada
Grand slam Delmon Young, 10/2
Run Alex Rodriguez
Strikeout (pitcher) Mariano Rivera
Strikeout (batter) Young
Out recorded Brendan Harris, 6-3, Jeter to Mark Teixeira
Unless noted, all occurred on Oct. 11, 2009, in Game 3 of the ALDS.

"This stings. It definitely stings," Minnesota infielder Nick Punto said. "But in the end, you sit back and reflect. I'm proud to be a part of this team."

As the season came to an end, the Twins also reflected back on the place they've called home since 1982. Sunday's loss, however, wasn't exactly how they would have liked to bid farewell to the Metrodome.

"Obviously, it's tough. It's a tough way to close it," Michael Cuddyer said. "It's hard. It's frustrating, but I think when we look back and have a chance to reflect on the season, I think we're pretty proud of where we are."

"I was hoping to play tomorrow and the next day. It hurts a little bit right now," Twins catcher Joe Mauer said. "The guys in this clubhouse have battled all year, overcame a lot of things. I think we'll appreciate that a little bit more here later on."

Last Sunday was billed as the final regular-season game at the Metrodome, but that instead took place Tuesday against the Tigers. Now, after a year of counting down the top Dome memories and anticipating outdoor baseball at Target Field, the Twins finally said goodbye.

And nearly all of the 54,735 fans in attendance on Sunday stayed until the end to say goodbye along with them.

"I'd rather be in front of these fans than in front of the New York fans," Nathan said. "These guys were with us the whole way. Rightfully so that we'd be here for the end."

Tyler Mason is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.