What can you say after one of the greatest nights in the history of baseball? After 182 days, the final night of the 2011 Major League Baseball season had more twists and turns than a John Grisham novel. Both wildcard spots were up for grabs and 4 games would decide who would advance to the postseason.
The St. Louis Cardinals capped off an incredible September with a 8-0 blowout of the Houston Astros, while the Atlanta Braves lost a heart-breaker to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 in 13 innings. The Braves loss capped off a miserable month which featured the team blowing an 8 1/2 game lead in the Wild Card.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles played the role of playoff spoilers against the Boston Red Sox. Like the Braves, the Sox had a 9 game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL Wild Card standings earlier this month and appeared a cinch to make the postseason. Instead, Boston successfully pulled off one of the great late-season collapses in baseball history. The Orioles capped off the drama with two runs with two outs in the 9th inning off of Red Sox closer Jon Papelbon to shock the boys from Beantown 4-3.
A few minutes later, Tampa Bay rallied from a 7-0 deficit after 7 innings to beat the New York Yankees 8-7 in 12. Evan Longoria hit his second home run of the night to win the game in dramatic walk-off fashion , and that was not even the biggest hit for the Rays. Seldom used Dan Johnson kept the Rays alive with a 2-out, 2-strike pinch hit homerun in the bottom of the 9th inning to tie the game at 7. The last time the Yankees blew a 7 run lead in the 8th inning was way back in 1953. If the playoffs come close to providing the same excitement as the final night of the regular season, baseball will have its best finish ever.