Blog Entry

3 Up, 3 Down: Baseball's amazing night

Posted on: September 29, 2011 3:35 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 3:37 am
Evan Longoria

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Plain and simple, if you're a baseball fan, Wednesday night was flat awesome. It reminded you just why we have the greatest game out there, and that each and every of the 162 games of the season could end up meaning something. Three of the four games that were part of the wild-card races were tight, two of them going into extra innings with ninth-inning heroics. Although this space will be filled from the four big games of the night, there were several other worthy performances that shouldn't be overlooked -- like Mike Napoli's two-run homer against his old team giving the Rangers home-field advantage in the ALDS, Stephen Strasburg striking out 10 in six innings to earn his first win of the season, Trevor Plouffe's RBI single with two outs in the ninth to help the Twins avoid 100 losses and Miguel Bautista's two-hit shutout for the Mets. But what made Wednesday exciting was the four games that decided the wild cards -- Red Sox-Orioles, Yankees-Rays, Cardinals-Astros and Braves-Phillies.

Evan Longoria, Rays: Only two players in the history of the game have hit walk-off homers in their team's last game of the regular season to send their team to the postseason -- Bobby Thompson and now Evan Longoria. And Longoria didn't just hit the game-winner, he also gave the team the idea that it could come back with a three-run homer to cap a six-run eighth and pull the Rays to within a run of the Yankees. He also had a big defensive play, but more on that later. 

Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: While the other three games for the wild cards were taut nip-tuck affairs, Carpenter made sure the Cardinals had no worries, throwing a two-hit shutout in a 8-0 victory over the Astros. Carpenter finishes the season with a rather pedestrian 11-9 record and 3.45 ERA, but over the last month of the season he was 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA in six starts, including two shutouts.

Bud Selig: Yeah, everyone loves to complain about everything Bud does, but you've got to give credit where credit's due -- this ending the season on a Wednesday worked. Not only will it give us early games of the playoffs on a weekend, it gave us Wednesday night's excitement, without any other distractions. There were no football games to compete against, instead all of the sports world's eyes were on baseball. And anyone watching was rewarded in an amazing night.

Carl Crawford, Red Sox: It may not be fair to place the entire blame of Boston's disastrous 2011 on Crawford's shoulders, but when you have a $142-million contract, your shoulders have to be broad. Crawford was 1 for 4 on the night, but he'll best be remembered for not being able to run down Robert Andino's sinking liner that scored Nolan Reimold from second with the winning run. Crawford charged the ball and slid, but came up just short as the Red Sox lost for the 20th time in September. Crawford finished his first season in Boston hitting .255/.289/.405 with 11 homers and 56 RBI. Marco Scutaro's baserunning gaffe in the eighth inning will also be remembered as part of the team's epic collapse, but right now, Crawford's Q rating in Boston is lower than Bill Buckner's.

Craig Kimbrel, Braves: Atlanta's rookie closer led all big-league relievers with 126 strikeouts, finished tied for the most saves in the National League with 46 and may win Rookie of the Year in the NL. But his 2011 will forever be remembered for Wednesday night when he blew his eight save of the season, giving up a leadoff single to Placido Polanco. After striking out Carlos Ruiz, he walked Ben Francisco and Jimmy Rollins to load the bases. Chase Utley followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3, before Kimbrel was lifted from his 79th game of the season. Four innings later, the Phillies finally scored and then ended the Braves' season. Of Kimbrel's eight blown saves, three came in September, including a pivotal game on Sept. 9 in St. Louis against the eventual wild-card winners.

Greg Golson, Yankees:  Before Lognoria's heroics in the bottom of the 12th, Golson led off the top of the inning with a single, and then went to third when the next batter, Eric Chavez, singled. It appeared the Yankees would be able to push the go-ahead run across the plate, but Jorge Posada hit a grounder to third, and Golson was caught too far off the bag and Longoria tagged him out for the first out of the inning. Not only did Golson make the out, he also didn't even get into a rundown to let Chavez advance to third. Chris Dickerson then struck out and Brett Gardner grounded out to end the Yankees threat and set up Longoria's heroics.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:47 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 3:19 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 7, 2011 5:48 pm

3 Up, 3 Down: Baseball's amazing night

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Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:20 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Baseball's amazing night

The idea behind having a "play in" game for the ultimate wild card is to put the team that advances at a disadvantage agsinst whoever they play among the three division winners, which is what the wild card should be.  If said team has to burn their top starter just to move on, they are at a disadvantage against whoever they play in the division round.  So while I realize that such a situation would have take a lot of the excitement out of this week, in general I am OK with it.

I would also change the rule about not playing a team in your division if you are the wild card.  I like how the NFL does it.  If Green Bay wins the division and is the 3 seed the Bears are a wild card and are the 6 seed, they play in the first round.  It doesn't matter if they are in the same division, and I like that.  I suppose the other option would be to not give the wild card team any home games in the first round. 

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: September 29, 2011 9:31 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Baseball's amazing night

Theonly reason there was excitment last night is because the Braves and the Red Sox collapsed down the stretch.  Sure the Rays and Cardinals had to play well to get there but if the Sox and Braves finish the season playing .500 in september and we have no exctiment lastnight heck had they played .400 there would have been no excitment.  so lets not get carried away with hey look the system works there were meanigful games on the last day of the season when they were genrated in such a manner that is not likley to happen ever again. (not only 1 team but 2 teams collapsing)

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: September 29, 2011 8:20 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Baseball's amazing night

Amidst all the grand hoopla and excitement of the two wild card races going down to the last day of the regular season, in the back of my mind, I get the idea that Bud Selig and the lords of baseball really do not like this. Why? Because they have a plan to eliminate it in 2013 by adding an "and one" game. The last couple of days, and especially last night, would have been perfectly meaningless under the 2013 playoff scenario. We would be having the Braves-Cardinals and Rays-Red Sox play-in games regardless of the outcomes of last night’s games. For that matter, it would not have mattered if the Cardinals and Rays had remained nine games back, there still would have been a been a play-in game.

For every playoff scenario that can be concocted, there will be years that it works to bring excitement and other years that it works to drain excitement. The question is whether we can get all that excited about two slightly-above-average teams competing for the fifth best record in their leagues and the right to participate in a play-in game.

Somehow, Bud Selig never misses an opportunity to shoot the game in the foot.

Since: Aug 24, 2010
Posted on: September 29, 2011 8:07 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Baseball's amazing night

We blew it, plain and simple.  No, not just last night.  The whole month of September.  It wrapped 1978, '86 and 2003 into a bundle.

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