MLB Wild Card Wednesday: 2011's Most Dramatic Day Since the Super Bowl?
If you weren’t watching MLB Wild Card Wednesday, then what are you good for? You probably didn’t watch the Pittsburgh-Green Bay Super Bowl because you were rather busy doing the laundry and the dishes for your female friend. One word: Manup.
Would you rather have one game to win, lose or draw to decide the season, or two games, twins, to decide some of it all? You know what they say about female twins with killer looks. If you don’t know, then you’d better ask somebody.
Twins with killer looks want it all, and they’d have gotten it all if they were watching the bouncing balls in the big four baseball games on Wednesday night with me. There were more than enough close calls, sweat and tears to go around. And I’m still standing.
The bamboozled Boston Red Sox stood against the Baltimore Orioles in Maryland, while the rising Tampa Bay Rays rocked and rolled against the Yankees. The cardiac St. Louis Cardinals squared off against Houston in an arresting matchup deep in the heart of Texas.
The bumbling Atlanta Braves played in Georgia against the powerhouse Philadelphia Phillies. I call the Braves “bumbling” because they deserve it; they collapsed in September after posting an eight-game lead in the wild-card race.
They got swept by the Cardinals over the 9/11 weekend and haven’t been the same since. All three games were nail-biters, and the injury bug has bitten both teams.
Injuries played a part for the breaking Braves, but the Cardinals are without ace Adam Wainwright, and Matt Holliday missed the last week or so. David Freese and Allen Craig missed a lot of games.
The depth on offense has been impressive and made Mark McGwire look like the best batting coach on earth. The Redbirds lead the NL in just about every offensive category including hitting into double plays. Yes…twin killings.
In the killer first inning, the Braves put the shift on for Ryan Howard, who murdered a pitch down the left field line to give the Phillies the lead against ace Time Hudson. Nice call, Skip.
At this point, Braves fans—if there were any left in the stadium—started looking to the bleachers for Chief Noc-A-Homa. Get it? Noc-A-Homa as in hit a home run. Some Braves fans haven’t been to enough games to know he retired in 1986.
The Braves came right back in the bottom of the first to tie the game, and the drama was on for the rest of the night. Dan Uggla knocked a homer after Michael Bourn was called out on what appeared to be a blown call on a stolen base attempt at third—3-1 Braves.
The play-in game scenario looked like a definite go because the brave-hearted Cardinals came out firing with five straight hits in the top of the first inning against Brett Myers. The drama was over before it started—5-0 Redbirds.
The Yankees also ended the drama early in Tampa Bay with a five spot off a Mark Teixeira grand slam in the second inning. Boston and Baltimore were tied, 2-2, in the fourth.
According to the Astros’ broadcast team, only three teams have won the wild card after being as much as 10.5 games back as late as August 25. Houston came from 11.5 back in 2005, Florida was 11.5 back in 2003 and Oakland trailed by 10 games in 2001.
The Redbirds seem to have found the formula for winning—a lineup stacked with .280 or better hitters. They’ve won 16 of 21, the last few against sub-par competition.
It looked like the Astros were having visions about the beaches at nearby Galveston Island and South Padre Island during the Wednesday night game. I thought I saw their third baseman making reservations while the first two hot shots of the game were hit to him.
The temperature is still close to 100 degrees every day in south Texas, but Houston was as cold as a February day in St. Louis. Chris Carpenter carved them up for a no-hitter through three innings, and he finished them off with a shutout.
Before the first inning, the Cardinals got a rousing standing ovation after they came off the field for batting practice. The Redbirds put on a show, and it carried over to the game. They had slugged 10 hits by the fifth inning—39 in the series at that time.
The mighty-hitting Redbirds had hordes of fans at Minute Maid Park, and their support sparked them to the impressive win. They would have needed more of the same in St. Louis, the S-T-L, during the play-in game against the A-T-L.
But, Philadelphia killed the Braves' season. They tied the Braves in the ninth against mega-closer Craig Kimbrel and won it in extra innings.
The Cards were given up for dead by most people. But, the Redbirds did it and will face the Phillies in the NLDS. This is the Redbirds team fans have been waiting to see since Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds left.
With the Cards' and Rays' incredible comebacks and the rain-delayed Red Sox loss to Baltimore with two outs in the ninth, Wednesday was the most exciting day in MLB and maybe American sports history.
It was, therefore, the most dramatic sports day since the Super Bowl, and the drama and the fun have just begun.
Contact Lake Cruise: LakeCruise@att.net.
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