MINNEAPOLIS — Ron Gardenhire drives over that bridge to work every day.
“Obviously, a baseball game is kind of secondary around here,” said the Twins’ manager, who was on the Interstate 35W bridge near the Metrodome hours before the bridge collapsed Wednesday. “All of our thoughts and prayers are with the folks over there around the bridge and the people working to try and save everybody’s lives. There was a ball game that had to be played. I don’t think a lot of us wanted to be out there but it was the right thing to do.”
After a moment of silence to honor victims of the collapse, the Kansas City Royals defeated Minnesota 5-3 in 10 innings.
Thursday’s game between the teams was called off, but the Twins decided to go ahead with this one instead of sending about 25,000 fans back out onto the congested highways.
Alex Gordon hit a two-run home run in the 10th inning as the Royals won hours after manager Buddy Bell announced he will resign after the season.
“Things always get put into perspective,” Bell said. “This game is important to all of us, but there is nothing as precious as life. We all know that.”
The Twins had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Kansas City tied the game in the eighth inning when Matt Guerrier’s wild pitch allowed pinch-runner Emil Brown to score.
Brown singled up the middle with one out in the 10th off reliever Juan Rincon (3-2), who struck out Mark Teahen before Gordon homered off the second deck.
“I just put my head down and started running,” Gordon said. “Being a rookie, I just want to make sure, if it was off the wall I was getting two or three.”
Zach Greinke (5-5) worked two scoreless innings for the win.
Joakim Soria, taking over the closer’s role after the departure of Octavio Dotel worked the bottom of the 10th for his 11th save.
In addition to postponing Thursday’s game, the Twins also postponed Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the their new stadium. The team said a weekend series against Cleveland also could be affected.
“I just tried to focus on the game and turn the switch on,” Twins starter Boof Bonser said. “I had to almost take the minds off of thinking about that.”
Bell said he was stepping aside to spend more time with his family. He will remain with the team as special assistant to general manager Dayton Moore.
“Buddy’s announcement kind of takes a back seat to what is going on in the city,” Royals right fielder Mark Teahen said. “But there was a lot of emotion on this day.”
Bonser rebounded from his last start against Cleveland, when he lasted only 2 2/3 innings. The big right-hander fanned four over seven innings and scattered eight hits.
Brian Bannister posted another solid outing for the Royals. The 25-year-old lasted seven innings for the 13th time in 17 starts, giving up three runs and striking out two.
“I think all we could do is go out there and give them a great game,” Bannister said. “I think guys on both sides played their hearts out tonight.”
David DeJesus had three hits for Kansas City, which dropped the first two games of the series.
The Twins opened the scoring in the third inning on an RBI groundout by Jason Bartlett.
Torii Hunter led off the Twins’ seventh inning with a double that bounced off the glove of Royals right fielder Mark Teahen. Jason Kubel drove him in with a sharp single to right to break a 2-2 tie.
The Royals scored twice in the fourth on an RBI groundout from John Buck and a single from DeJesus.
Minnesota tied it in their half of the fourth when Kubel singled up the middle, scoring Joe Mauer.
Johan Santana was scheduled to start today’s finale. If the Twins play as scheduled against the Indians on Friday night, the Cy Young Award winner will get the nod. However, nobody in the Twins’ clubhouse was thinking about Friday.
“I called my wife and called home to make sure they were OK and then it kind of hit home,” said Twins reliever and Minnesota native Pat Neshek. “We’ve all been on that road. It hurts seeing that. I have a lot of friends here, everyone does. Baseball was the last thing on my mind.”