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Sports Then and Now



Rays Win to Cap Baseball’s Wildest Night 13

Posted on September 29, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays came from seven runs down in the final game of the regular season to make the playoffs.

Before this season, in the history of Major League Baseball no team had ever missed the playoffs after leading by eight games or more in September. Thanks to a trio of shocking comebacks on the final night of the 2011 season, it has now happened twice.

The Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves have been two of the most successful baseball franchises of the last two decades, but they now are both going to be remembered for years to come for their epic collapses to end the 2011 season.

For a baseball fan, it is hard to imagine a night with more excitement than was seen on September 28th. On a night that perfectly epitomized the last month of the season for the Red Sox, Braves, Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals, there were emotion shifts nearly every minute as teams tried to stake their claim to a playoff berth.

Rays Rally While Red Sox Fade
On September 3rd the Tampa Bay Rays were nine games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL Wild Card race. The Rays won 17 of their final 24 games and benefitted from the Red Sox dropping 20 of their final 26 to pull off a shocking comeback.

But it was the final comeback that was perhaps the most impressive. The Rays and Red Sox entered the final night of the season tied for the Wild Card lead.

Things didn’t look good for the Rays early as David Price allowed seven runs over the first four innings as the New York Yankees jumped to a huge early lead. With the Red Sox leading the Baltimore Orioles by a run, it looked like the Rays had to hope for a Baltimore comeback just to secure a one-game playoff.

Then, a funny thing happened on the way to a long offseason. The Rays rallied for six runs in the eighth inning, capped by a three-run home run by Evan Longoria, and then tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a home run by Dan Johnson (his second of the season).

While this was happening, the Red Sox seemed headed to victory as they maintained their 3-2 lead over the Orioles into the ninth inning. When Jonathan Papelbon struck out the first two batters, it appeared that at the very least, the Red Sox would be playing the Rays in a one-game playoff on Thursday in St. Petersburg.

But suddenly, the Orioles started to rally. Back to back doubles by Chris Davis and Nolan Reimold tied the game and then Robert Andino capped the comeback with a single to rightfield that brought home Reimold with the winning run. Read the rest of this entry →

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