What a great day for baseball! What a terrible day for the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves. Both teams squandered commanding leads in their final stretch run to lose it all on the final day of the regular season.
The Tampa Bay Rays spotted the New York Yankees a 7-0 lead in Wednesday's game by the 5th inning, then came back to tie the game. Amazingly the Rays won in extra innings 8-7 on an exciting Evan Longoria home run in the 12th inning. The Longoria home run came just 3 minutes after Boston had lost.
Boston had blown a 71/2 game lead over the Rays with 20 games left to play. They went into the 9th inning of Wednesday's game with a 3-2 lead over the Baltimore Orioles and their star closer, Jonathan Papelbon, on the mound. Their final collapse came when The Orioles scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 4-3.
Meanwhile, in the National League the Atlanta Braves continued their nose-dive with a season ending loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. They had entered the final stretch with a 9 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. But the Cards would not be denied. While Atlanta was losing to the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis won the final regular season game over the hapless Houston Astros on a 2-hit 8-0 shutout.
So the Tampa Bay Rays and the St. Louis Cardinals snatch the wild card slots in their respective leagues and head into the playoffs with tremendous momentum.
Of course, the Chicago Cubs capped off their terrible season with a 9-2 loss to the San Diego Padres. In my lifetime the Cubs have never played in a World Series. Wait till next year!
Nonetheless, for all baseball fans this has been the most exciting September ever. A prediction: the Yankees will square of against the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2011 World Series. But if this year has proved anything, it has shown that predicting winners can be risky.