One last strike.
That was the theme of the entire night that brought about some of the single greatest baseball moments this generation of baseball fans will ever have the pleasure of seeing.
The poetry and cinematic timing would be too over the top for a film set, but it all actually happened, and the way that it came to fruition is nothing short of incredible.
Setting the scene: the playoff picture had yet to be finalized, as multiple teams did not know who or where or IF they’d be playing in the postseason.
The Tampa Bay Rays and St Louis Cardinals had made miraculous runs from being over nine games back at the onset of September to being tied on the final day of the season in their respective wild card races.
The Rays had caught the Boston Red Sox, while the Cardinals had caught the Braves, meaning four teams faced must-win scenarios on the final day of the season.
All four games wound up taking place around the same time and we know the rest.
The Rays ace, David Price, choked and allowed six runs against the Yankees and the Rays wound up being down 7-0 for the better part of the game. The Red Sox jumped ahead early in Baltimore against the Orioles, but then mother nature reared her head and that game went into a rain delay. Meanwhile, the Cardinals made easy work of the Astros, shutting them out. The Braves meanwhile, failed to do the same in a highly contested match up with the Phillies
During the rain delay in Baltimore, the Rays pulled off another incredible September comeback as they scored six times in the eighth and then Dan freaking Johnson comes up and with a 2-2 count, he drilled one around the foul pole in right field to tie the game.
In Atlanta, the unhittable Craig Kimbrel faltered and allowed the Phillies to tie the game in the 9th. A few innings later, a bloop single spelled doom for the Braves and they would ultimately fall, ending their season and serving as the catalyst for a wild celebration in the Cardinals clubhouse.
Meanwhile, back Baltimore, the Red Sox had a 3-2 lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the ninth inning, with their sure handed closer, Jonathan Papelbon had been brought in to try and secure another day for the Red Sox. After two quick dominating strikeouts, Chris Davis doubled on the first pitch he saw to keep the Orioles alive. The next hitter, Nolan Reimold, fell to a 2-2 count, but then lifted a deep flyball that split the outfielders and bounced over the wall for a game tying ground-rule double.
Back at the Trop, the Rays and Yankees were tied at 7 and were heading for the bottom of the 12th inning, just as the clock struck midnight.
With Reimold on second, Robert Andino lined a 1-1 pitch from Papelbon to left field, where the former face of the Rays franchise, Carl Crawford, made an attempt to pull off a sliding catch. A catch he had made dozens of times before while in a Rays uniform. His attempt failed as the ball bounced off his glove and Reimold, running all the way with two outs, came around to score the winning run.
The crowd erupted in St Pete, and now Evan Longoria stood at the plate with a 2-2 count and with the next pitch, he lined a ball down the left field line. A few years prior, the Rays had removed the highwall down the line in order to allow Carl Crawford to potentially rob a few home runs, it was referred to as Crawford’s Corner.
The corner is now referred to as Game 162 Landing, as Longoria’s line drive cleared the low wall and gave the Rays a game winning wild card clinching walk off home run.
Ain’t history grand?