The season begins on a back field, surrounded by 380 acres of flat woods near Florida's Gulf Coast, and sometimes it seems the only ones watching are the deer. Batting practice pitchers deliver belt-high fastballs, hitters drive them into the warm morning air and outfielders loll after them with the speed of local retirees. Manager Joe Maddon stands behind a batting cage, soaking up the rural idyll of Charlotte Sports Park, where the Rays gather for spring training. Then he interrupts it with the most urgent scenario he can conjure. "Last inning, tie game, get a knock here and we go to the playoffs!" Maddon shouts, like a father breaking the monotony of backyard BP with his son. He wants to see who digs in without tightening up. The Rays focus on the man in the cage. A line drive, they rejoice. A pop fly, they jeer. They rehearse how the season ends.
Five minutes after midnight on Sept. 29, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria walked into the batter's box at Tropicana Field, and stepped out for a moment. Since he was a boy, Longoria would come to the plate with games on the brink and start to shake, unable to control his body, much less his bat. "You feel like the whole world is on your shoulders," Longoria says, "and you can't hold it up."
When he was at Long Beach State, Longoria saw a sports psychologist who taught him to step out of the box when he was nervous and focus on one point in the ballpark. Longoria has always chosen the leftfield foul pole. But as he stared down the foul pole in the 12th inning of the final game of the regular season, with one out and the Rays and the Yankees tied 7--7, Longoria wasn't nervous and he wasn't shaking. He was just trying not to laugh.
Four teams entered the final night of the 2011 season, Sept. 28, with a playoff spot at stake. Four more had home field advantage on the line, an improbable backdrop for what became an unfathomable chain of events. In the four games that determined playoff berths, three teams came back to win after trailing in the ninth inning. Two clubs joined the ranks of the worst September collapses in baseball history, 25 minutes apart. Another team blew a 7--0 lead in the eighth inning for the first time in 58 years. There was the first final-day walk-off home run to clinch a postseason spot since Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard Round the World in 1951, and two other hits that were nearly as significant.
You can't find a consensus on the greatest team, greatest game or greatest player in baseball history. But there is no doubt about the greatest night. Its heroes included a September call-up who was batting .108, a utility infielder completing his first full season in the big leagues and a third baseman who thought he might have a hernia. Then there was Longoria, a three-time All-Star finishing his worst big league season, gazing at that leftfield foul pole and struggling to keep a straight face. Beneath the pole at Tropicana Field is a small panel of the fence that was lowered four years ago. Longoria didn't know why the Rays had altered that section. But he'd never seen anybody hit a ball over it.
The regular season is designed to reward the best teams, not necessarily to produce the most suspense. After 162 games powers have emerged, upstarts have faded, everybody has returned to the mean. In fact, 161 are usually enough. Game 162 is for packing boxes and giving away batting gloves. The lucky ones rest and arrange playoff tickets. The 2011 season was to be no different: The Red Sox were nine games ahead of Tampa Bay in the American League wild-card race on Sept. 1, the Braves were 8½ ahead of the Cardinals in the NL. The Orioles were 28½ games out of first place in the AL East, bound for their 14th straight losing season, when manager Buck Showalter outlined the plan for the final month. Showalter told his team that regulars would be used against clubs in contention and September call-ups sprinkled into less consequential games. "The last thing you want to be is a doorstop," Showalter said.
By Sept. 18, Atlanta's wild-card lead was down to 3½ games over St. Louis. Boston's edge over Tampa Bay had shrunk to two games. As the Rays left Fenway Park after taking three of four from Boston, the Orioles were about to arrive, ready to play seven games in the last 10 days against the Red Sox. Maddon asked Rays clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland to leave a bottle of 2008 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon for Showalter, along with the message GO GET 'EM! But Showalter did not need any liquid motivation. In spring training he said of the Red Sox, "I like whipping their butt. It's great knowing those guys with the $250 million payroll are saying, 'How the hell are they beating us?'"
On Sept. 20 utility infielder Robert Andino beat Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon with a three-run double, and on Sept. 26 he did the same to starter Josh Beckett with a three-run, inside-the-park home run. Andino grew up in Miami and was drafted in 2002 by the hometown Marlins. He debuted in September '05, and two months later Florida traded Beckett to the Red Sox for a package highlighted by shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Andino languished behind Ramirez for three seasons before he was shipped to the Orioles.
On the morning of Sept. 28, the Red Sox and the Rays were tied for the AL wild-card lead; the Braves and the Cardinals were tied for the NL wild card; the Rangers were one game ahead of the Tigers for home field advantage in the ALDS; and the Brewers were one game ahead of the Diamondbacks for home field in the NLDS. Andino woke up, cleaned his apartment at the Harbor View in Baltimore and dropped off the keys at the leasing office downstairs. He and his father, Robert Sr., drove to Camden Yards and ate a goodbye lunch prepared by Vladimir Guerrero's mother, Altagracia Alvino. Cardboard boxes and duffel bags were strewn around the clubhouse. Players compared off-season plans. Showalter, who sprained his ankle two days before when he stepped in a hole on the field, told his pitchers they weren't allowed to come out of that night's game against Boston mid-inning. "It's too long a walk to the mound," he said.
Friends called Jeff Mayer and invited him to the season finale against Boston. In October 1996, when Mayer was 12 years old, his beloved Orioles were beating the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS when Derek Jeter hit a deep fly to rightfield in the bottom of the eighth inning. A 12-year-old named Jeffrey Maier, sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, reached down and pulled the ball into the stands. Jeter was awarded a home run; the Yankees outlasted the Orioles and won four of the next five World Series. Maier was feted on talk shows; Mayer was nearly beaten up at school. When Mayer started working for a computer company in Baltimore this year, some employees complained to management that they hired the kid who destroyed the O's.
Mayer never imagined he could despise a team as much as the Yankees. "For a long time I rooted for the Red Sox because they had the best chance to beat the Yankees," Mayer says. "Their fans came to Baltimore and were fun to be around. But the last few years they've become as obnoxious as the Yankees'. They're unbearable now." As tickets at Fenway grew scarce, Red Sox fans flocked to Camden Yards in greater numbers, nicknaming it Fenway South. Mayer and three buddies went to Game 162 with one purpose in mind, the same one driving their hometown team. "We wanted to annoy the Red Sox," Mayer says.
The baseball season has traditionally finished on a Sunday afternoon, but this year the final games were moved to a Wednesday night. Early in the afternoon MLB Network president Tony Petitti held a conference call with the staff of MLB Tonight, a studio show that treats every night of the season like the NCAA tournament, cutting in and out of games at critical junctures. "He told us, 'If it's a key moment, don't worry about the commercial break,'" says host Greg Amsinger. " 'Let's capture the night.'"
Some teams had nothing to gain and were inspired. Others had everything to lose and were paralyzed. One didn't seem to care at all. The Yankees, locked into the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs and facing the Rays, started 23-year-old righthander Dellin Betances, who had pitched two-thirds of an inning in his major league career. Manager Joe Girardi gave nights off to top relievers Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano and Dave Robertson. By contrast, the Phillies, locked into the No. 1 seed in the NL and facing the Braves, went with seven-year veteran Joe Blanton and positioned former World Series MVP Cole Hamels to work in relief.
It was as if the Yankees were sabotaging the Red Sox and the Red Sox were sabotaging themselves. Boston manager Terry Francona acknowledged that catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia could start despite an injured collarbone, but he opted for Yale graduate Ryan Lavarnway, who had started once at catcher in the big leagues—the day before. The rookie did hit two home runs in that game, so Francona batted him fifth on the most important night of the season. The Rays, needing the Orioles to beat the Red Sox one more time, considered shouting "O!" before the last verse in The Star-Spangled Banner, the way fans at Camden Yards do. They didn't go through with it, but the idea was revealing of their mood: relaxed yet resolved. Backup first baseman Dan Johnson strolled through their clubhouse before the game in a T-shirt that read DAN F------ JOHNSON."
The best night in baseball history did not start that way. In Houston, St. Louis took a 5--0 lead in the first inning against the Astros, putting pressure on Atlanta to win and force a one-game playoff. The Yankees took a 5--0 lead in the second in St. Petersburg, opening the door for Boston to clinch the wild card outright. Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer was watching on a television in Westmoreland's office, but when the Yankees went up 7--0 in the fifth, he changed the channel to Red Sox--Orioles. "All you can do now," Zimmer told Westmoreland, "is hope for the Orioles."
But the Red Sox were winning, 3--2, and in the sixth inning shortstop Marco Scutaro started a double play, flipping the ball to second with his glove while racing to his left. "You see that, and you think, They've got it sewn up," says Baltimore third baseman Chris Davis. Jeff Ziegler, Tampa Bay's traveling secretary, left his seats on the third base line at Tropicana Field and took his girlfriend and daughter to the team store. This, it appeared, was their last chance to buy souvenirs.
In the seventh inning Casey Kotchman was the only player with a hit for the Rays, and Maddon considered whether he should use his best relief pitchers or preserve them in case the Orioles rallied and there was a playoff the next day. He decided to save them. In the seventh Maddon summoned reliever Dane De La Rosa (ERA coming in: 12.00), and during the change he told home plate umpire Joe West, "I hear there's a rain delay in Baltimore. That could help us. The Red Sox are winning, but now they've got to think about it."
The Red Sox were watching the Yankees-Rays game in their clubhouse, delighted at what they saw. On the MLB Network, Greg Amsinger reminded viewers in New England, "Next time you see a fan of the Yankees, give him a hug. Say thank you."
The Yankees had not lost a 7--0 lead in the eighth inning or later since 1953, but these were the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Derek Jeter had been replaced at shortstop by Ramiro Pe√±a, first baseman Mark Teixeira by Eric Chavez, centerfielder Curtis Granderson by Greg Golson, rightfielder Nick Swisher by Chris Dickerson. The Phillies, on the other hand, still had all but one starting position player in the game when the ninth inning began in Atlanta. Closer Craig Kimbrel, who set a rookie record with 46 saves for the Braves, gripped a 3--2 lead. Kimbrel was untouchable for most of the summer. But on Sept. 9 he blew his first save in nearly four months, and he blew another 10 days later.
Kimbrel threw a 100-mph fastball to the first batter he faced, Placido Polanco, who lined it to rightfield for a single. "My mind was rushing," Kimbrel said after the game. "Things started moving too fast." He would walk three batters in an inning for the first time all season, and when Chase Utley punched a sacrifice fly to left, the game was tied, and the Braves were crushed. The Phillies weren't all that thrilled, either. Says manager Charlie Manuel, "It was like, Do we really want to be here all night with the playoffs coming?"
In Houston, St. Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter heard Cardinals fans erupt over the third base dugout, and he turned to look at the out-of-town scoreboard: PHILLIES 3, BRAVES 3. The Cardinals had a chance to avoid the one-game playoff. Of all the teams playing for the postseason, the Cardinals were the only ones who did not flinch. They won 8--0, and Carpenter finished a two-hit shutout in two hours, 20 minutes. The Cards retreated to the clubhouse cafeteria at Minute Maid Park to watch Phillies-Braves.
For a while it was the only game that seemed to matter. During the rain delay in Baltimore, Jeff Mayer and his friends watched Phillies-Braves on the Jumbotron. Coaches watched it in the Orioles' clubhouse. Showalter, however, wouldn't give up on the Rays. He walked into the coaches' room and said, "You might want to turn the channel. This could get interesting in Tampa."
When Longoria came up with two on and two out in the eighth, the Rays were down 7--3. Longoria told himself that it could be his last at bat of the season. As Dan Johnson looked at the scoreboard, the batter, and the runners on base, he did the simple arithmetic: "Longoria is up," he said to teammates in the dugout. "If he hits a three-run home...."
He never completed the sentence. Longoria sent a three-run bomb to left centerfield. "You think in that moment about destiny and magic and the way positive and negative energy gather momentum," Maddon says. Also, he had to revisit his bullpen strategy.
In Baltimore, Jeff Mayer and his friends dashed to the concourse to find a TV. Orioles pitcher Zach Britton charged into the clubhouse to tell everyone the Rays were within one. Robert Andino drank a cup of coffee.
Other games of consequence were unfolding. The Brewers handled the Pirates to clinch home field advantage in the NLDS. The Rangers edged the Angels to clinch home field in the ALDS, on a two-run homer by catcher Mike Napoli with two outs in the ninth. In Baltimore the tarp came off, and the Jumbotron switched to Yankees-Rays. In St. Petersburg, Maddon told Johnson that he would pinch-hit in the ninth for rookie Desmond Jennings, who was due up fifth. Johnson dashed to the batting cage.
With two out and nobody on, rightfielder Sam Fuld was scheduled to hit for Tampa Bay, and Johnson was still in the cage. But Maddon needed a home run threat. A security guard near the cage hollered at Johnson, "You're up! You're up!" Johnson sprinted back to the dugout and tried to catch his breath as he strode to the plate.
Johnson remembered that Maddon had done this with him once before, in September 2008, on the day he was called up from Triple A Durham and arrived at Fenway Park five minutes before first pitch. Maddon asked Johnson to pinch-hit in the ninth inning, and he belted a game-tying homer off Papelbon. "It more than crossed my mind," Johnson says.
Johnson was on the Opening Day roster, but he was sent to the minors in May and didn't return until Sept. 15. Not only was he batting .108, his last big league hit had come in April. He was facing the Yankees' 10th pitcher of the night, Cory Wade, who had played with Johnson in Durham before the Rays released him in June. Johnson knew Wade's best pitch was a changeup. Wade threw it with a 2--2 count and the lefthanded-hitting Johnson yanked it off the rightfield foul pole for another tying homer. The Red Sox were warming up for the seventh inning in Baltimore.
"When Danny hits that home run, there's no way we're not winning and there's no way they aren't losing," Maddon says. "You knew they'd trip." In the Rays' clubhouse, Westmoreland left his office and headed for the room with the walk-in cooler. "Where are you going?" Zimmer asked.
"I've got to prepare for something," Westmoreland said. Zimmer laughed. "You didn't expect that an hour ago, did you?"
For the next 87 minutes MLB Network did not take a commercial break, cutting so furiously between New York--Tampa Bay, Boston-Baltimore and Philadelphia-Atlanta that it sometimes seemed as if David Ortiz played for the Braves. Baseball may be old-fashioned, but modern technology complements it to perfection. You could have been monitoring one game on your TV, another on your phone and a third on your iPad. In fact, that's what the Rangers were doing at Angel Stadium, even though they didn't have a rooting interest. "We're yelling at the traveling secretary to let us stay and watch the end of all the games," says pitcher Darren O'Day. "He let us stay for about an hour."
By the 13th inning the Phillies were almost as deep into their bullpen as the Yankees, but five of the top six hitters in their lineup were still in the game. First baseman Ryan Howard was the only one out, replaced by centerfielder Michael Martinez. In the ninth the Braves walked Hunter Pence to bring up Martinez, and he fouled out with the bases loaded. In the 11th they intentionally walked Pence to face Martinez, and he flew out with two runners on. The Braves, who had tried to acquire Pence at the trading deadline from Houston, refused to let him beat them.
But when Pence came up in the 13th, with runners at the corners, two outs and Martinez on deck, the Braves changed course. Not only did they pitch to Pence, but Manuel noticed that they had first baseman Freddie Freeman in, holding the runner on. Reliever Scott Linebrink bore a fastball in on Pence's hands, breaking his bat. All Pence could do was muscle a squibber to the opposite field, but it sneaked over Freeman's head, bounced twice on the infield dirt and rolled into short right. By the time second baseman Dan Uggla corralled it, 120 feet from home plate, the go-ahead run had scored. "Pence couldn't have thrown it any better," Freeman says. The next batter, Martinez, fouled out again.
The hit gave the Phillies their 102nd victory, a new franchise record, and Manuel his 646th with the club, another franchise record. But Manuel still calls it a sad ending. In the Phillies' bullpen, reliever David Herndon had a different view. "It was a credit to all our veteran guys who were banged up and could have said they didn't want to play," says the righthander, who earned the first save of his career when he retired Freeman on a double play. Freeman, the best rookie position player in the National League—he would finish second to Kimbrel in the Rookie of the Year voting—and the Braves' most consistent hitter, sat in full uniform 30 minutes after the game, unable to speak. Chipper Jones told Freeman what starting pitcher Tim Hudson was telling Kimbrel: "It's not your fault. We wouldn't even be here without you."
In Houston the Cardinals rushed from the cafeteria to the clubhouse, chanting a battle cry coined by shortstop Rafael Furcal: "Happy flight! Happy flight!" They were headed for Philadelphia and the NLDS.
Jack McCormick, the Red Sox' traveling secretary, arranged a Delta 757 jet at Baltimore-Washington Airport that would take the team to one of three destinations: Dallas for the ALDS, Tampa Bay for a one-game playoff or Boston for a long winter. The Red Sox had many chances to change the direction of that plane. In the seventh inning Ortiz tried to stretch a single into a double, and Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones threw him out. In the eighth Scutaro tried to score after hesitating between second and third, and Jones started a relay that nailed him at the plate. Lavarnway came up four times with at least two runners on and didn't drive in any of them.
Still, the Red Sox were 77--0 when leading after eight innings, and they were ahead by a run when Baltimore third baseman Chris Davis batted against Papelbon with two outs and no one on in the ninth. Davis attacked the first pitch he saw and lined it into the rightfield corner. The Rangers, who had traded Davis to the Orioles in July, erupted in Anaheim: "Chip hit a double! Chip hit a double!" Most of them were sitting on the bus inside Angel Stadium, trying to get a signal on their iPads. Some were going through security checks in the clubhouse, huddled around an iPhone with the MLB At Bat 11 app.
Davis, fighting a pulled groin, was replaced by pinch runner Kyle Hudson, a former wide receiver at Illinois. Chants from Boston fans and Baltimore fans mashed together. Orioles batting coach Jim Presley talked to the team in late September about Papelbon, how his fastball seems to rise at the last instant, and hitters need to bring him down. Outfielder Nolan Reimold picked out a waist-high fastball and pounded it to right center. Hudson ran a fly pattern to the plate. He didn't see the ball clear the fence for a game-tying ground rule double. The clock struck midnight.
Showalter just wanted the inning to get to Andino, and he realizes how nutty that sounds, considering Andino had never played a full season before. But he remembered Andino's hit against Papelbon a week earlier. As Andino came up, he noticed Carl Crawford take a few steps forward in leftfield. Crawford, who spent his whole career in Tampa Bay before signing a $142 million contract with Boston last December, was a lemon all season for the Red Sox. Andino sliced a sinking line drive to left, and as he saw Crawford lunge forward, he yelled, "Don't catch it!"
Crawford slid on the slick grass, the ball hit off the top of his glove and Reimold hustled home. The September call-ups didn't know whether to mob Andino or Reimold. The Orioles ended a 93-loss season in a World Series--caliber dog pile. When Andino finally emerged, he looked up at the Red Sox fans filing out. "I just wanted to see them go," he says. Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds flung his jersey into the stands. Jeff Mayer, sitting over the first base dugout, made the catch. He celebrated with a stranger in a Longoria jersey.
Groups of Rays were shuttling back and forth to the clubhouse at Tropicana Field, returning with updates from Baltimore. The last one came from reliever Joel Peralta, his right arm wrapped in ice. "We have our chance," he told teammates in the dugout. "Let's go get it." Fans in the suites, who had televisions to follow the Orioles, started jumping. The ones in the stands followed. Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton ducked out of the batter's box as if he might be pelted. Longoria chuckled in the on-deck circle.
Three minutes after the Red Sox lost, Crawford was in the clubhouse, looking at a TV. So were the Orioles, pulling for the Rays as if they were related. "I'm not really sure why," says Davis, but the answer seems obvious. The Orioles and the Rays share the misfortune of playing in the most inequitable division in professional sports, their payrolls dwarfed and ballparks overrun by the Yankees and the Red Sox. Game 162 was a small-market revolt, an opportunity to cheer against New York and Boston at exactly the same time. When Longoria stepped out and looked at the foul pole, there might not have been more than 15,000 people at Tropicana Field, but Maddon sensed the support of the country. "I'm certain the Internet was not invented when David and Goliath fought," he says, "but the group watching had to be rooting for David."
Scott Proctor pitched 11 innings for the Yankees in 2011, and 22/3 of them were on the final night. His ERA for the year was 9.00. He threw Longoria a 95-mph fastball, same as the one he had thrown him six days before, when Longoria grounded weakly to short. This time Longoria hit it low and hard toward that foul pole. "It looked like the third baseman was going to catch it," Johnson says.
Longoria initially thought the ball would drift foul. Then he thought it would bounce off the fence. And it would have, if the Rays had not lowered that section of the wall four years ago. According to Hit Tracker Online, Longoria's liner would've only made it out of one major league stadium: Tropicana Field.
Harold Reynolds and Den Plesac, MLB Tonight analysts, leaped out of their chairs in the studio. Westmoreland, the Rays' clubhouse manager, wheeled the champagne out of the walk-in cooler. Ziegler, the traveling secretary, broke his pinkie finger in the commotion. Maddon went from locker to locker, making sure to hug everyone and say, "I don't believe this." When the Rays landed in Texas the next day for the ALDS, Longoria asked general manager Andrew Friedman and some of the club owners why they'd lowered that part of the fence in the first place. They said it was to create more exciting plays. According to Maddon, it was lowered for Crawford, so he could take away more home runs.
Much of what occurred on Sept. 28 foreshadowed what transpired in the month to follow. The rested Yankees and the exhausted Rays fell in the first round of the playoffs. The Phillies, who helped the Cardinals clinch their playoff berth, were eliminated by them. Teams played 38 of 41 possible postseason games. The Cardinals were down to their last strike twice before coming back to win Game 6 of the World Series. Carpenter won Game 7.
On the way out of Camden Yards, Francona told Epstein, "I feel like I let you down." He resigned two days later, and Epstein bolted for the Cubs two weeks after that. The Braves, a bit more understated in their grief, only replaced a hitting coach.
The Orioles, who took five of seven from the Red Sox in September, wondered if it was a fluke or a harbinger. For the first time in his 13-year managerial career, Showalter did not speak to his team after the last game. He just sat in his office, wiping happy tears, telling bench coach John Russell, "That was the demonstration of what I was going to say." Then he went out to see the fans, but Jeff Mayer had already left, walking home to Federal Hill. He wore his Mark Reynolds jersey over his Natty Boh beer T-shirt, feeling like it was 1996 again, before that 12-year-old with the homophonic name interfered.
Many Orioles lingered in the clubhouse, trying to re-create what they saw. "I don't think anybody wanted to leave," says Hudson. The Rays heard rumors that the Orioles drank the Red Sox' champagne, but the Baltimore players deny it. Tampa Bay pitcher James Shields said he would at least buy the O's a postgame spread next season.
At 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 29, Hudson finally turned to Matt Angle, a rookie outfielder. It was time to go. They walked out of Camden Yards, to Hudson's Chevy Avalanche, and headed west for the winter. At 8:30 a.m. Hudson dropped off Angle at his home in Columbus, Ohio, and then drove six more hours to his own home in Mattoon, Ill.
He couldn't have slept if he tried. He was wired from two five-hour energy drinks and one night that will live forever.
THE ORIOLES DIDN'T NEED ANY EXTRA MOTIVATION TO PLAY HARD AGAINST THE RED SOX. "I LIKE WHIPPING THEIR BUTT," SHOWALTER HAD SAID IN SPRING TRAINING.
"I'M CERTAIN THE INTERNET WAS NOT INVENTED WHEN DAVID AND GOLIATH FOUGHT," MADDON SAYS, "BUT THE GROUP WATCHING HAD TO BE ROOTING FOR DAVID."
Breaking down Sept. 28, when fortunes changed by the minute. Win Expectancy (WE) measures a team's average chance of winning given a particular game situation. WE data from baseball-reference.com. Time data courtesy MLB Productions.
First pitch, Indians-Tigers
First pitch, Red Sox-Orioles
First pitch, Phillies-Braves
First pitch, Yankees-Rays
Mark Teixeira • grand slam: Yankees 5 Rays 0, T2nd
Rays WE: 37% • 11%
Dan Uggla two-run homer: Braves 3 Phillies 1, B3rd Phillies WE: 46% • 25%
First pitch, Cardinals-Astros
First pitch, • Rangers-Angels
First pitch, Pirates-Brewers
Nick Punto • RBI single: Cardinals 5 Astros 0, T1st Cardinals WE: 88% • 91%
Dustin Pedroia solo homer: Red Sox 3 Orioles 2, T5th
Orioles WE: 53% • 38%
Phillies retired 1-2-3: Braves 3 Phillies 1, Mid 6th
Phillies WE: 20% • 14%
Andruw Jones solo homer: Yankees 7 Rays 0, T5th
Rays WE: 3% • 2%
Uggla thrown out at home: Braves 3 Phillies 1, B6th
Phillies WE: 15% • 17%
Carlos Gomez• three-run homer: Brewers 5 Pirates 1, B4th
Brewers WE: 69% • 91%
David Ortiz thrown out at second: Red Sox 3 Orioles 2, T7th
Orioles WE: 30% • 31%
Rain delay• begins in Baltimore: Red Sox 3 Orioles 2, Mid 7th
Phillies leave bases loaded: Braves 3 Phillies 2, Mid 8th
Phillies WE: 30% • 12%
Jhonny Peralta solo home run: Tigers 5 Indians 4, B8th
Tigers WE: 61% • 87%
Chase Utley sacrifice fly: Phillies 3 Braves 3, T9th
Phillies WE: 45% • 48%
TIGERS WIN 5--4
Johnny Damon leads off: Yankees 7 Rays 0, B8th
Rays WE: 0%
Evan Longoria three-run homer: Yankees 7 Rays 6, B8th
Rays WE: 3% • 18%
CARDINALS WIN 8--0
Mike Napoli two-run homer: Rangers 3 Angels 1, T9th
Rangers WE: 43% • 92%
Dan Johnson • solo home run: Rays 7 Yankees 7, B9th
Rays WE: 4% • 53%
RANGERS WIN 3-1
Red Sox-Orioles resumes: Red Sox 3 Orioles 2, B7th
BREWERS WIN 7--3
Martin Prado groundout strands two Braves runners: Phillies 3 Braves 3, End 12th
Phillies WE: 37% • 50%
Marco Scutaro thrown out at home: Red Sox 3 Orioles 2, T8th
Orioles WE: 25% • 26%
Hunter Pence RBI single: Phillies 4 Braves 3, T13th
Phillies WE: 50% • 85%
PHILLIES WIN 4--3, BRAVES ELIMINATED
Mark Reynolds strikeout leaves two outs and bases empty: Red Sox 3 Orioles 2, B9th
Orioles WE: 11% 5%
Brett Gardner groundout strands two Yankees: Rays 7 Yankees 7, Mid 12th
Rays WE: 52% • 63%
Robert Andino RBI single, B 9th: ORIOLES WIN 4--3
Evan Longoria solo home run, B 12th: RAYS WIN 8--7, RED SOX ELIMINATED
The clock struck midnight on the Red Sox' season when Longoria's line drive sneaked over the leftfield fence; a minute later the Rays slugger was mobbed by his shocked and giddy teammates.
Photo Illustration by SEAN MCCABE
J. MERIC/GETTY IMAGES;PATRICK SEMANSKY/AP; JIM DAVIS/THE BOSTON GLOBE/GETTY IMAGES; AL MESSERSCHMIDT/GETTY IMAGES; JIM DAVIS/THE BOSTON GLOBE/GETTY IMAGES CHRIS O'MEARA/AP; BRIAN BLANCO/EPA; JUAN DELEON/SOUTHCREEK GLOBAL/ZUMAPRESS.COM; ANDREW RICHARDSON/CAL SPORT MEDIA; MARK GOLDMAN/ICON SMI; STEVE NESIUS/REUTERS; MARK GOLDMAN/ICON SMI; DALE ZANINE/US PRESSWIRE (2);TAMI CHAPPELL/REUTERS; STEVE NESIUS/REUTERS; MARK GOLDMAN/ICON SMI; DIRK SHADD/ST. PETERSBURG TIMES/ZUMAPRESS.COM; LUKE JOHNSON/SOUTHCREEK GLOBAL/ZUMAPRESS.COM; DALE ZANINE/US PRESSWIRE
J. MERIC/GETTY IMAGES (TEIXEIRA)
DALE ZANINE-US PRESSWIRE (UGGLA)
KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT/US PRESSWIRE (RICHARDS)
MIKE CARLSON/AP (JONES)
MARK GOLDMAN/ICON SMI (ORTIZ)
DARREN HAUCK/GETTY IMAGES (GOMEZ)
JOHN BAZEMORE/AP (UGGLA)
TROY TAORMINA/US PRESSWIRE (PUNTO)
GREG FIUME/GETTY IMAGES (TARP)
STEVE NESIUS/REUTERS (LONGORIA)
JUAN DELEON/SOUTHCREEK GLOBAL/ZUMAPRESS.COM (CARPENTER)
DALE ZANINE/US PRESSWIRE (UTLEY)
KIM KLEMENT/US PRESSWIRE (JOHNSON)
ROB CARR/GETTY IMAGES (SCUTARO)
MIKE MCGINNIS/CAL SPORT MEDIA (BREWERS)
JOY R. ABSALON/US PRESSWIRE (REYNOLDS)
JOY R. ABSALON/US PRESSWIRE (ANDINO)
JAMES BORCHUCK/ST. PETERSBURG TIMES/ZUMAPRESS.COM (LONGORIA)
DALE ZANINE/US PRESSWIRE (BRAVES)
Photograph by JOHN BAZEMORE/AP
BRAVES CRISTHIAN MARTINEZ, ALEX GONZALEZ AND MARTIN PRADO (FROM LEFT) MOURNED ATLANTA'S LOSS IN THE DUGOUT BEFORE HEADING OUT FOR A LONG, COLD WINTER.
Photograph by BRIAN BLANCO/ZUMA PRESS
RAYS EVERYONE IN TAMPA BAY ERUPTED WHEN JOHNSON HOMERED TO TIE THE YANKEES IN THE NINTH, A MOMENT THAT STARTED THE CRESCENDO TO LONGORIA'S CODA IN THE 12TH.