On Tuesday, September 27th both the American League and the National League wild card races got a lot more interesting. Yesterday the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 5-3 and the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-7 to remain at a dead-lock at the top of the AL wild card standings. The St. Louis Cardinals were able to take advantage of an Atlanta Braves loss to the Philadelphia Phillies by beating the Houston Astros 13-6.
The Sox had a nine game lead in the wild card on September 1st, while the Braves had an 8.5 game lead. Both the Red Sox and the Braves are on the verge of two of the biggest collapses in MLB history.
Although both teams are on the verge of historic collapses, if the Sox don't make it to the post season, it will be the biggest choke in MLB history. They are about to blow a lead that would make the 2007 Mets shake their heads.
This is one of the most exciting finishes in September in recent years. These races have caught the attention of fans throughout the nation—even if their team is already out of contention. These races are compelling, not only because they have come down to the final game, but also the story-lines involved.
Joe Maddon's Faith
For months now Rays' manager Joe Maddon made it clear that he believed that the Rays had it in them to make a playoff push in late September. In August and early September many disregarded him because no one really believed that they could catch the beloved Sox or the Yankees. Well, the Sox have been struggling mightily against everyone right now and guess who's right there to take advantage—the Tampa Bay Rays. Although they have only gone a good, but not great, 16-10 in September before Wednesday, they have gone 6-1 against the Sox in September which has helped slim the wild card lead.
If Joe Maddon's Rays can pull this off, they will shock the baseball world and create one of the best moments in the franchise's young history.
The Cardinals' Resiliency
In mid-August the Cardinals were falling fast in the division with the Milwaukee Brewers white hot. On September 1st, the Cardinals were 7.5 games out in the division and 8.5 games back in the wild card.
Since then they have gone 17-8 and both their pitching and hitting has been exceptional. Albert Pujols is batting .366 with 20 RBIs. Lance Berkman has a .OBP of .450. Along with their superstars playing well, their front three has really kept them in the race. Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, and Jaime Garcia have been lights out.
With some bad injuries to the Braves' starting rotation along with some bad baseball, they have gone 9-17 this month. This has obviously opened the door for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Today will be a wild night and history might be made along with hearts being broken. For the Sox and the Braves, they are hoping that they aren't on the wrong end of history.