Wild And Crazy End To Baseball’s Regular Season
St. Petersburg, FL (WIBX) - The Rays and Cardinals are in. The Red Sox and Braves are out. And the Yankees will host the Tigers in the American League Divisional Series.
Trailing the Red Sox by 9 games in the Wild Card race on September 2nd, the Tampa Bay Rays completed an incredible rally in the final month of the season, and ended the regular season with an equally unbelievable come from behind victory over the Yankees.
Losing 7-0 in the 8th inning of Wednesday night's game to the Yanks, Tampa rallied for 6 runs to cut the deficit to 7-6. With two strikes and two outs in the 9th, pinch hitter Dan Johnson clubbed a solo home run to tie the game and force extra innings.
Then, just minutes after Boston's Jonathan Papelbon blew a 3-2 9th inning lead and lost to the Orioles in Baltimore, Evan Longoria belted his second long ball of the night, this one a 12th inning walk-off that puts the Rays in the postseason.
As rare a feat as that sounds, virtually the same thing happened in the National League this month.
The Atlanta Braves held an 8.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Wild Card on September 5th. The Cards fought all the way to tie Atlanta entering the final day of the regular season, and took care of the Astros on Wednesday by a final of 8-0.
It seemed they would host the Braves in a one game Wild Card play-in game on Thursday until Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel blew his team's 3-2 9th inning lead. The Phillies went on to score a run in the 13th, and win the game 4-3, ending the Braves playoff dreams.
The MLB playoffs begin on Friday night with two American League match-ups:
Tampa Bay Rays @ Texas Rangers - 5:07 p.m.
Detroit Tigers @ New York Yankees - 8:07 p.m.
On Saturday, the Cardinals begin their series in Philadelphia, while the Arizona Diamondbacks will host the Milwaukee Brewers.