What a wild and crazy night it was. Heading into the final day of the 2011 MLB season, four teams were tied for the final two playoff spots. The National League Wild Card race came down to a contentious battle between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals, while the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays slugged it out for the coveted American League Wild Card spot. Within a span of two hours, two teams were knocked out of the MLB playoff race and two were getting ready for October baseball.
Amazingly enough, the Atlanta Braves began September with a firm 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card standings against the St. Louis Cardinals however, injuries and poor starting pitcher performance proved to be their downfall. Their comfy lead all but disappeared and they were tied for the Wild Card spot with the Cardinals heading into the final game of the season. St. Louis played their last game earlier in the day and dropped a final notch in the W column with a victory over the Houston Astros. From there all the Cards could do was wait to see if the Braves could top the Phillies and force a one game playoff but as midnight approached on the East Coast, the Braves couldn’t hold their ground and fell to the Philadelphia Phillies, thus ensuring a final playoff spot for the Cardinals.
Like the Braves, the Boston Red Sox sat atop a nice lead in the American League East. At the beginning of September, the Bo Sox looked down at both the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, and even held a comfortable 9 game lead over the third place Rays. Boston’s comfortable lead dwindled and they soon found themselves tied for the final playoff spot at the last regular game of the season. Unfortunately, the Red Sox came up short against the Baltimore Orioles. Meanwhile, down 7-0, the Rays staged an epic comeback against the New York Yankees to win thus securing the Rays the final playoff spot.
In terms of tension and fun, you could not have asked for a better day of baseball and an exhilarating end-of-season run. With four teams tied for two playoff spots heading into the final day of the season, September 28 will go down as an epic day in sports history.
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