There isn’t a lot left to say about one of — scratch that — the craziest night in regular season baseball history. Four huge games,
threetwo went into extra innings and another came to within a strike of ending in the bottom of 9; producing drama unlike any we have seen before.
The Rays made hay against an increasingly depleted Yankees lineup while the Orioles continued battling the Red Sox with all they had. In the National League, the Cardinals graciously accepted their bye and awaited the outcome of the Phillies – Braves game for many/most/all the marbles.
So, so much happened in such a short period of time, it is difficult to process. Evan Longoria cemented his case as the American League’s best player. Two of the very best closers in baseball blew one run leads, proving once and for all that just about anything can happen. A fringe major leaguer recorded his first big league hit in months in a humongous spot.
It was, in this time of ever-present hyperbole, true madness.
The fallout from last night will be felt quite some time. The questions swirling around the Red Sox start with manager Terry Francona and echo through the roster. David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon are both free agents, the latter the most likely to depart.
The Braves face similar questions – can they move forward with Fredi Gonzalez as their manager? He’s generally awful and his litany of questionable decisions demand accountability. What will the Braves do with Derek Lowe? How much does Chipper have to give? Is there a way to measure the karmic backlash of handing out tens of thousands of tomahawks in 2011? It appears so.
The Cardinals and Rays sneak into the playoffs at the eleventh hour – can they make noise now that they’re in? The Cardinals got exactly what they needed from Chris Carpenter: a complete game performance which bought their beleaguered bullpen an extra day of rest. But is this a team that can legitimately challenge the Phillies? How much of their success is due to Atlanta’s complete collapse?
The Rays, by virture of their significant pitching depth, look to be in much better shape. They can start James Shields on short rest of just start rookie Matt Moore in game one of the ALDS. Why not? It isn’t as though the Rays are too concerned with traditional narratives or experience. If they think he can beat the Rangers, he’ll be out there.
Momentum in baseball is a funny thing in that it doesn’t really exist. The second season starts and erases any and all memories of last night’s madness. There aren’t any Scott Proctor’s lurking in the bullpens of Texas or Detroit. The high-stress workload of the last week doesn’t just disappear from teams scratching and clawing their way into October baseball.
But that is tomorrow’s debate. The winners and losers, favorites and underdogs will be debated and foolish picks and predictions will so south as soon as they’re made tomorrow. Today is a day to reflect on everything that makes this game great, the pitch-by-pitch drama that and legendary swings in fortune that no other sport can match. Baseball, man. It’s the [Getting Blanked]ing best.