Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
There's no baseball tonight...and I don't mind. I was rooting for the double tiebreaker scenario. I wanted to see both the Rays/Red Sox and Cardinals/Braves have to play a one-game tiebreaker today.
It was not to be. No tiebreakers were needed. But the games last night were so thrilling that I don't care. It was perfect. For pure drama, it might be the most amazing night of baseball ever.
The only game that wasn't a nail-biter was the Cardinals game. Chris Carpenter made short work of the Astros, pitching a complete game shutout. He gave up only two hits. (Lance Pendleton pitched the 9th for the Astros. He gave up two hits, including a home run.) The game was over before 10:30pm, but the Cards had to wait upon the outcome of the Braves game to know if they had made the playoffs or had to play a tiebreaker.
It looked like the Braves were going to win as well, but the Phillies manufactured a run in the ninth, and the game went to extras. The Phillies scored another run in the top of the 13th. It looked like the Braves had a chance to answer in the bottom of the inning, but Freddie Freeman grounded into a double play, ending their season and sending the Cards to the postseason.
Meanwhile, in the AL, it started out looking like a pretty dull night. The Yankees were kicking the Rays' butts. It was 7-0 by the middle of the 5th, and the Rays fans started to go home. The Rays are a team built on pitching and defense. They don't have a lot of offense. They're not the type of team that comes from behind to win, let alone from down 7-0.
In Baltimore, the Red Sox were leading the Orioles 3-2 in the 7th when the tarp went on the field. The rain delay lasted about an hour and a half. It seemed that the Sox had a good chance of making the postseason if they held onto their one-run lead, or playing a tiebreaker if they couldn't.
But in Tampa, the Rays staged an improbable comeback. They scored 6 runs in the 8th to tie the game. Then in the bottom of the 9th, Dan Johnson - .108 hitting, .335 OPSing Dan Johnson - hit a home run that tied the game. Free baseball!
The Yankees, assuming the game was in the bag (and not really caring if it wasn't) had been holding pitching tryouts for the postseason during the game. By the ninth inning, they were on their 10th pitcher. The last man in the pen was Scott Proctor. He had not pitched well since being called up, and fans expected him to serve up meatballs early and often. And didn't mind, since losing to the Rays would be bad news for the Red Sox.
But surprisingly, Proctor pitched pretty well. He got the last out in the ninth. Then pitched the 10th. And the 11th. And came out again for the 12th. There was speculation that the Yankees might have to put a position player on the mound, since Proctor had thrown around 50 pitches - a lot for a relief pitcher.
Then there was a buzz in the stands (among the fans who were left, anyway). People with smartphones found out that the Red Sox had lost. Papelbon had blown the save. He struck out the first two batters, then gave up two doubles and a single. The ball bounced out of Carl Crawford's glove, allowing two runs to score. There was a delay before the score was shown in the Trop, but when it finally was, there was a roar from the crowd.
A couple of minutes later, Scott Proctor gave up a walkoff homer to Evan Longoria. Rays win. Red Sox go home.
What a night. Three blown saves, two games going to extras, heroes both likely (Longoria) and unlikely (Dan Johnson), goats both likely (Crawford) and unlikely (Papelbon). People who went to bed are probably kicking themselves for missing it. This was one for the ages.
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