Grand Slam * Stats & News
Updated: September 28, 2011
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Copyright © 1997-2011
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar

Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2011 by Marco Stoovelaar

Exciting ending Major League-season
BALTIMORE, Maryland / ST. PETERSBURG, Florida / ATLANTA, Georgia, Pennsylvania / HOUSTON, Texas / PHOENIX, Arizona / MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin / DETROIT, Michigan / ANAHEIM, California (USA) - On a crazy final day of the regular season in the Major League, eight games were important to decide the set-up for the Division Series, which open on Friday. In the end, everything was decided on Wednesday, meaning no tie-breaker games are needed on Thursday.

The six Division-champion were known for several days, being the New York Yankees (AL East), Detroit Tigers (AL Central) and Texas Rangers (AL West), Philadelphia Phillies (NL East), Milwaukee Brewers (NL Central) and Arizona Diamondbacks (NL West). But who would win the Wild Card was up in the air until the final day.

In the American League, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays were tied (90-71), while the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals were tied and battling for the NL Wild Card (89-72). But not only these four teams were playing decisive games on Wednesday. There were four other games, whose outcome would be decisive for four teams. In the American League, the Tigers and Rangers were playing for the second best record and the same scenario was in the National League for the Brewers and Diamondbacks. The outcome of these games was important to decide which team would have to fly to New York or Philadelphia and who would open at home against the Wild Card-team. The Yankees and Phillies were the only two teams on Wednesday who were set for the upcoming first round of the Play-Offs. They earned home field advantage, which they also will have if they advance to the League Championship Series. So, the Yankees and Phillies would open for a home crowd on Friday, but whom they would face was not known until the last day.

On Wednesday-evening, the Red Sox were playing vs. the Baltimore Orioles at Baltimore, while the Rays were playing at home in St. Petersburg against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox took an early lead againt the O's, but failed to hold onto it. But in the fifth inning, Dustin Pedroia homered to give the BoSox a 3-2 lead. But to add to the drama, the game was halted in the seventh inning when heavy rain passed through the area. The game was delayed for one hour and 26 minutes and in that period, the Red Sox saw a remarkable comeback in their clubhouse of the Rays. Initally, the Yankees were leading big early against the Rays, thanks to a grand slam homerun by Mark Teixeira in the second inning. Teixeira then added a solo-homerun in the fourth, then Andruw Jones also homered for the Yankees. But trailing 7-0, the Rays suddenly came back late in the game scoring six runs in the eighth inning to make it 7-6, with Evan Longoria contributing with a 3-run homerun. Then, in the bottom of the ninth inning, Dan Johnson hit a 2-out, pinch-hit homerun to tie the score and force extra innings. When the game resumed in Baltimore, the Red Sox failed to add an insurance run, then were dealt a blow in the ninth inning. Ace-closer Jonathan Papelbon struckout the first two batters, then gave up back-to-back doubles to Chris Davis and Nolan Reimold that tied the score, then Robert Andino followed with a line drive single to give the Orioles a 4-3 victory. Maybe 10 minutes after the Baltimore-Boston game ended, the Rays struck at home at Tropicana Field when Evan Longoria hit a walk-off homerun in the 12th inning to give the Rays an 8-7 victory and win the Wild Card! When September started, the Rays were nine games behind the Red Sox, but came back to reach the Play-Offs, as Boston was having its worst month of September since 1952, losing 20 games!

In the National League, the Braves took a 3-1 lead against the Philadelphia Phillies in the third inning, thanks to a 2-out, 2-run homerun by Dan Uggla, while the Cards took a comfortable 5-0 lead against the Houston Astros and went on to win 8-0. The Phillies scored in the seventh and ninth inning to tie the score vs. Atlanta 3-3 and also force extra innings in that game. The Phillies went on to win 4-3 in the 13th inning on a single by Hunter Pence, meaning the season ended for the Braves, as the Cardinals captured the Wild Card because of their win. For the Cards, this also ends a remarkable comeback, as the team was 10 1/2 games behind the Braves a month ago!

What the number 2 overall record was concerned in the American League, the Tigers did what they have to do: winning. The Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 5-4 on a 8-inning homerun by Jhonny Peralta. But they needed a loss by the Rangers to get the second-best record and open the Play-Offs at home. And that didn't happen. The Rangers won 3-1 vs. the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on a 2-out, 2-run homerun in the top of the ninth inning by Mike Napoli. And that meant that the Rangers had the second-best record. With this, the Tigers now have to travel to New York to open against the Yankees, while the Rangers opens at home against American League Wild Card-winner Tampa Bay.

The number 2 seed in the National League also was decided. The Brewers won 7-3 vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates to register a franchise-record 96th victory. The Brewers also set a clubrecord with more than 3 million spectators this season. The Diamondbacks scored five runs in the ninth inning, but lost 7-5 to the Los Angeles Dodgers, meaning Milwaukee ended with the second-best record and earn home field advantage in the Play-Offs. As the Wild Card Cardinals are playing in the same division as the Brewers they will open the Division Series on Saturday in Philadelphia, while the Diamondbacks have to travel to Milwaukee.

It was the first time in history that the regular season ended on a Wednesday. And that resulted in the first time in history that eight games on the final day were all important for the final standings. Meaning, the 162nd regular season game for the eight teams involved decided the outcome of their year.

And what a day it was! WOW!

Oh, by the way, also on the final day, the batting title was decided in the National League. Josť Reyes of the New York Mets bunted for a single in his first at bat, then left the game to finish the season with a .337 batting average. Ryan Braun of the Brewers, his only contender, went 0-for-4 and finished with a .332 average, meaning Reyes became the first player of the Mets in history to win the batting crown.

(September 28)

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Copyright © 1997-2011 Marco Stoovelaar / Grand Slam * Stats & News.