In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Oh. Dear. God. That was the best and craziest night ever. Where to begin? It's time to turn logic off. Logic is officially dead. Baseball killed it. The sport just unraveled thousands of years of civilization. All is wild. On this brand-new morning, the heretofore uninvented insanity scale will guide us.
Insanity Level One: Talking to an educated pine tree about politics.
- Mike Napoli hit two home runs as the Rangers beat the Angels 3-1. The win clinched home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs for Texas, where they'll be facing well, we'll get there.
- Zack Greinke improved to 11-0 at home and notched his 200th strikeout to help the Milwaukee Brewers clinch some home field advantage of their own with a 7-3 win over the Pirates.
Insanity Level Two: Laughing at the delicious, dry wit of a broken light bulb.
- The Diamondbacks lost 7-5 to the Dodgers, and Matt Kemp became the first Dodger in 70 years to lead the league in home runs and RBI. Meanwhile, the D-Backs lost their chance to host a playoff series, and will instead be visiting the Brewers in the NLDS.
- An 8th-inning home run by Jhonny Peralta stopped Cleveland's comeback and gave the Tigers a 5-4 win over the Indians. Despite the victory, the Tigers fell one game short of earning home field advantage, and they'll be traveling to the Bronx to take on the Yankees in the first round.
Insanity Level Three: Filling a bathtub with witch hazel and donating it to the Salvation Army.
- The St. Louis Cardinals finished their 23-8 season-ending tear with an 8-0 win over the Astros. Chris Carpenter pitched a complete game two-hit shutout to give his team a fighting chance to take down the Braves, who led the Cardinals in the wild-card race by 10.5 games as recently as August 25.
Insanity Level Four: Throwing pebbles at your neighbor's window at 3 a.m. until they turn a light on, look out, and see you wearing a robot costume and holding a neon sign: "The Biggest Stone Is Yet to Come."
- After leading 3-2 in what became a must-win game, the Braves blew their lead in the ninth inning and eventually lost to the Phillies 4-3 in the 13th. Hunter Pence hit the game-winning single for the Phillies, and just like that, the Braves' season was over. The Cardinals won the wild card, and will visit Philadelphia to open the playoffs.
Insanity Level Five: Wearing a leopard-skin cloak, calling yourself St. Christopher, and neighing like a horse every time you see the color yellow.
- The Boston Red Sox held a 3-2 lead over the Orioles through a rain delay, and sent Jonathan Papelbon out to close the game in the ninth. A win, and they'd be guaranteed at least a one-game playoff against the Rays, who were in extra innings with the Yankees. A loss, and they'd be at the mercy of that same team. But Papelbon blew yet another save, and Robert Andino's two-out single gave the Orioles a 4-3 walk-off win. The Sox ended their season on a 7-20 September slide, and all they could do was watch the scoreboard.
Insanity Level Six: Fashioning spears from the husks of wooden chairs you stole from a bingo hall, hoarding them in a dark cellar, and preparing for the Great War against Fidel Castro and the Papists. Also, you're singing this song over and over again.
- Tampa Bay trailed 7-0 in the eighth inning. SEVEN TO ZERO. Boston was winning, and they were done. Then a rally happened. One of the craziest rallies of all time. Evan Longoria delivered the first big blow, a three-run home run to make it 7-6, and he delivered the last one, too — a walk-off home run in the bottom of the twelfth. Three minutes earlier, Boston had lost on Andino's single. In the blink of an eye, the Rays had won 8-7 and had gone from the very brink of elimination to a playoff berth. They'll visit Texas in the ALDS starting Friday.
This stuff all happened on the same night. It has to be the single greatest final day of regular-season baseball ever. Holy, holy mackerel.
Now then, here are the playoff matchups. The first team listed has home field advantage:
As a last little hurrah, here's a fascinating piece of Internet kitsch: Last night's game thread from the "Sons of Sam Horn" Red Sox message board. First, fair warning, beware the foul language. Start here, with Boston batting in the top of the ninth, and go page to page to witness the awful collapse of faith as their nightmare unfolds. Best or worst thing you'll read all day. (Eds note: Looks like the site is currently down. Sorry about that!)
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