This Dan Johnson character ... c'mon.
He's not real, is he?
He can't be. Because what he did on Thursday night ... again ... was beyond fiction. He stepped to the plate batting .108, with Tampa Bay's season down to its final strike ... and he did it again?
He sliced a low liner of a gloriously colorful Tampa Bay rainbow that rifled into the seats just inside the right-field foul line to push the game into the 10th.
Then Mr. Triple Play, Evan Longoria, took it from there in the 12th, smashing a game-winning homer against Yankees reliever Scott Proctor within 10 minutes of Boston blowing one, final game in Baltimore.
And just like that, Tampa Bay's in.
Just moments after St. Louis staged the greatest comeback ever when Atlanta lost, the Rays topped them.
Tampa Bay's in.
It was unreal, unbelievable and for so long for the Rays, unattainable. They trailed 7-0 by the fifth. They were still trailing 7-0 in the eighth. Then they scored six runs, then came Johnson in the ninth and. ...
Dan Johnson? The guy is like the Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus. Daniel Ryan Johnson. In his fourth season, 31 years old. He shows up once or twice a year and ... wham!
When the Rays were staging their miracle World Series run in 2008, he clobbered a huge, late-season home run against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon in Fenway Park at a time when the young Rays were trying to believe in themselves. The homer sent the game into extra innings.
He belted a game-winning home run against Boston's Scott Atchison at Tropicana Field last August that helped the Rays' playoff bid.
He crushed two go-ahead home runs against Phil Hughes and the Yankees last September that helped pave the Rays' way to last October even more.
That should have been enough, right? I mean, who does this kind of thing? Who does he think he is, Gates Brown?
On one of the most exhilarating nights of baseball in memory, the playoff field is set.
Detroit at the Yankees and, incredibly, Tampa Bay at Texas.
And Arizona at Milwaukee and, yes, incredibly, St. Louis at Philadelphia.