I'm not going to sit here and lie to you guys. I'll admit right now that I didn't watch any playoff games yesterday but that I did keep track of what was happening on Twitter and from what I could tell, most of the games were pretty exciting. Three out of the four games were one-run contests and three teams were facing elimination from the playoffs and two staved it off. The Atlanta Braves were the unlucky ones who found themselves taking the long cross country flight back East to collect their things and go home. The Los Angeles Dodgers, led by skipper Don Mattingly, beat the Braves 4-3 thanks to an eighth inning home run by Juan Uribe. This is a funny story. Uribe actually couldn't get a bunt down in the at bat and then ended up hitting what turned into the game-winning home run. See? Bunts are bad, home runs are good. Now, the Dodgers await their National League Championship Series opponents. It could be the Pittsburgh Pirates or the St. Louis Cardinals.
In Pittsburgh, the always-seem-to-be-on-death's-door but never quite dead St. Louis Cardinals were also on the brink of elimination, finding themselves down two games to one heading into game 4. So what happened there? Oh nothing, just a one-hitter led by St. Louis' 22-year-old phenom Michael Wacha. And while that one hit was a Pedro Alvarez home run in the eighth inning to break up the no-no, Pittsburgh couldn't get that second and all important tying run across in the ninth and ended up losing the game 2-1. So now, the series goes back to St. Louis all knotted up two games apiece with a trip to the NLCS to face the Dodgers on the line.
Another team facing elimination were those pesky Tampa Bay Rays. They left Boston down 0-2 in the series and looked all but dead when Boston took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. The Trop was quiet, the cowbells weren't clanging and people in Boston were probably making ALCS plans. But not so fast said the Rays, who in the bottom half of the fifth, tied the game thanks to Evan Longoria's three-run blast. Wow, Longoria hit a bit home run when his team was down and almost out? Where have we heard that story before? The Rays held a one-run lead going into the top of the ninth when old reliable, Fernando Rodney, blew the save and allowed Boston to score a run to tie. (Yes, calling him old reliable was a joke.) Boston brought in their closer into a tie game on the road because why not? It's the playoffs and he's the best guy in the bullpen, right? Of course, because it's the playoffs things didn't work out exactly the way the Red Sox planned. Koji Uehara, who has been unhittable this season, finally gave up a big hit, a walk-off home run to Jose Lobaton which keeps Tampa's hopes alive for at least another day.
Oh, I almost forgot about the A's and Tigers. They played so early in the day yesterday that it seemed to get lost in the madness of last night. Oakland, behind the power of three home runs, beat the Tigers 6-3 and now, the Tigers are a game away from elimination. Or Oakland is a game away from facing either Boston or Tampa in the ALCS. I guess it depends on how you look at it.
There was also a moment at the very end of yesterday's game when Oakland reliever Grant Balfour exchanged words with Victor Martinez after a foul ball. Balfour claims Martinez stared him down. Martinez claims Balfour shouted profanities. The benches cleared, warnings were given out but in the end, Oakland prevailed.
Now I don't know if this little recap will make you want to watch any of these games. Frankly, I'm still on the fence about the whole thing but the playoffs do go on after the Yankees go home and so far, they have been pretty good.