Photo Credit: Bag Dragger
Date: September 28, 2011
The final day of last season will go down as the most exciting day in baseball history, as two teams clinched a playoff spot in the span of 129 minutes. Pages and pages could be written about what went down on that day, but here is a quick summary via Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci.
With the Braves two outs from victory, Chase Utley of Philadelphia tied the game in Atlanta with a sacrifice fly against Craig Kimbrel, the baby-faced rookie closer for the Braves who was pitching with the earnestness of youth, but more obviously with the toll of overuse and stress from a grueling stretch run. Red-cheeked and flustered, he invited pity more than scorn.
Nothing would be the same in the next 129 minutes. Fortunes were reversed. Reputations were made and destroyed. Careers were altered.
10:23 p.m.: Evan Longoria hits a three-run homer to bring Tampa Bay to within 7-6 of the Yankees.
10:26: St. Louis completes an 8-0 trouncing of Houston and repairs to clubhouse televisions to watch the Braves.
10:47: Dan Johnson, hitting .108—a number (without the decimal) considered sacred in many Eastern religions but an outright travesty in baseball—hits a game-tying home run for the Rays when they are down to their last strike.
10:58: The Red Sox resume their game in Baltimore after a long rain delay, a delay that now makes sense as the baseball gods setting this game aside for a bit—like allowing the dough to sit before baking—so that the Boston and Tampa Bay games could crescendo minutes apart.
11:28: Hunter Pence of Philadelphia, with the ugliest of swings producing the ugliest of hits, squibs a broken-bat single to put the Phillies ahead of the Braves 4-3 in the 13th inning.
11:40: Freddie Freeman of Atlanta grounds into a double play, ending the game and eliminating the Braves.
11:59: Nolan Reimold of Baltimore, with the Orioles down to their last strike, ties the game with a ground-rule double off Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon.
12:02: Robert Andino wins the game for Baltimore with a single. The Red Sox, as it turns out, have three minutes to live.
12:05: Longoria hits a home run off Scott Proctor to win the game for Tampa Bay.