Buried halfway down in a garbage can in the visitor's clubhouse, under plastic plates of gnawed barbecue ribs and drippy cole slaw, was a symbol of the New York Yankees' trip to Minnesota.
A pair of spikes and stirrups, discarded by Scott Brosius, no longer were part of this magical season.
New York's romp through the regular season was interrupted Thursday night with a 9-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins. That ended the Yankees' modern major-league record of 48 consecutive games with a lead and gave them their first losing streak in a month.
"We're playing so bad, guys are throwing clothes away," Joe Girardi muttered.
"They're just tired," Brosius said of the shoes later as the clubhouse emptied and the garbage piled up.
The Yankees were very bad Thursday as the Twins swept the two-game series, the first time New York has been swept since losing a season-opening two-game set at Anaheim.
New York, which has lost only four series all season, committed a season-high five errors that led to four unearned runs. The Yankees never led after Ron Coomer's homer in the second, the first game they haven't held a lead at some point since a June 28 loss to the New York Mets.
"We booted the ball all over the place," said right fielder Paul O'Neill, who did just that on Todd Walker's eighth-inning double. "We just couldn't do much right. It's one of those games you just forget about."
Not for the Twins, who became the first team to beat the Yankees four times this year.
Coomer drove in three runs, the first with a solo homr in the second inning for a 1-0 lead. Terry Steinbach, who began the game batting .189 with runners in scoring position, had a pair of RBI singles.
The Twins broke open the game with a four-run fifth to make it 7-1 as Marty Cordova, Coomer and Steinbach had RBI in the inning. The fourth run scored when Walker's grounder went under the glove of first baseman Tino Martinez for an error.
"Lots of fun," Coomer said. "You're playing one of the best teams to ever play the game. ... That's been our trademark all year. We play good against good teams."
The loss was just the third in 15 games for New York, which hadn't lost two straight since July 17-18 in Toronto. No one was panicking, but there were plenty of frank assessments.
"We were awful," manager Joe Torre said.
"We've played pretty well as a team all year," Girardi said. "But, boy, we stunk here. Plain and simple. As a team, we stunk."
Minnesota won for the fourth time in six games -- two each over the Yankees and Boston -- after opening August at 1-12.
Frank Rodriguez (3-2) allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings, atoning for a 7-3 loss in New York last week. The Yankees swept that three-game series by a combined score of 25-5.
Coomer's 14th homer tied Matt Lawton for the team lead. The Yankees evened it in the fourth on Martinez's RBI single, but the Twins took the lead for good with two in the bottom half as Coomer and Walker hit consecutive RBI singles off Mike Buddie (3-1), who was making his second career start.
Buddie allowed six runs, four earned, on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. He left after consecutive singles by Lawton and Cordova in the fifth.
The Yankees got a run in the sixth on Martinez's sacrifice fly before the Twins made it 8-2 in the bottom half on David Ortiz's RBI single. Minnesota added another run in the seventh when Walker doubled and scored on Steinbach's single.
New York got two in the eighth after loading the bases with one out off reliever Eddie Guardado. O'Neill scored when the Twins failed to turn a double play on Chad Curtis' grounder to second, and Brosius followed with an RBI single.
Have the Yankees become complacent? Hardly, Torre said.
"It's the other end of the spectrum," he said. "I think they go out there and maybe beat themselves up a little too much, and that could snowball into something negative. But we'll talk about that if I think it's a problem."
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