A perhaps ho-hum Major League Baseball season ended in dramatic fashion, particularly in the American League East, after the Tampa Bay Rays mounted an amazing comeback to make the postseason after an epic collapse by the Boston Red Sox.
Three minutes after reliable Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up two runs with two outs in the night inning to lose the game, 4-3, to the Baltimore Orioles, Evan Longoria hit his second home run of the game to give the Rays the 12th inning victory over Boston's rival, the New York Yankees.
The combination of the Red Sox loss and the Rays' win, propelled the Rays into the improbable position of a playoff team, after being down nine games out of the Wild Card spot at the start of September.
What made the Rays' victory so impressive was the fact that they were down by seven runs going into the bottom of the eight inning. The walk-off home run by Longoria was a fantastic way to end the season.
Both games went long as the Red Sox - Orioles game was delayed due to rain, and the Yankees - Rays game went to extra innings. Pinch-hitter Dan Johnson, who hadn't hit a home run since April, kept the Rays in the game with a dramatic home run in the ninth inning with two outs off Cory Wade. Johnson went into the at-bat hitting far below .200.
In the National League, the Atlanta Braves lost their fifth-straight game, while the St. Louis Cardinals won back-to-back games to advance to the postseason. The Braves lost to the division rival Philadelphia Phillies in the 13th inning.
Scott Van Pelt on ESPN's SportsCenter summed up the dramatic evening this way: Sports are better than anything else -- always. He had earlier bantered with co-anchor Stuart Scott about the baseball evening, and said, We could be here for 100 years, and never see again what we just saw.