WASHINGTON — There will be no game 163.
Still, while many fans yearning for bonus baseball did not succeed, Major League Baseball’s regular season had a compelling, coast-to-coast final day that began with five playoff spots in Flux and ended in Rivers of Champagne. Happened, left the postseason. Tough task to follow.
In a wildly compelling coda for the season, which began almost simultaneously across North America on Sunday afternoon, the playoff picture came to mind, blurred like a windshield on a winter morning, before finally clearing 15 ballgames to a conclusion. Went crazy.
and all after that:
The San Francisco Giants won a club record 107th game – and National League West – to the stunned disappointment of the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers, who withheld their eight-year division title.
The New York Yankees couldn’t score a run all day against the robotically ineffective Tampa Bay Rays—until giant slugger Aaron Judge’s infield single went into a 1–0 only run, a walk-off victory that won the American League Wild. Gained a ticket card game.
And the Boston Red Sox capped a listless, mistake-free week to correct themselves in time, systematically wiping out a four-run deficit in the final four innings before Rafael Devers’ second home run – one in the top A swift two-run shot shot the ninth inning – beat the Washington Nationals 7-5 and earned the other AL wild-card slot – and the right to host the hated Yankees at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
As the Rays and Yankees traded zero in the Bronx, the Red Sox slowly took to the water in DC, trailing 5-1 after five innings. Still, manager Alex Cora says, “Every time I looked at the scoreboard, I thought, ‘Wow, this is only the fourth inning, this is only the fifth inning.
And so he doubled by two runs to finish fifth for three, drawing 5-5 at two-out off Alex Verdugo. Then, as the sun began to slide beyond the horizon in the Bronx, Judge’s ninth-inning liner closed the glove of rage reliever Andrew Kittredge, scoring Tyler Wade for the Yankees’ 92nd win.
“I saw the Yankees win in the bottom of the ninth,” Verdugo says, “and I was like, ‘Okay. We have to go, boys.'”
Devers’ 38th home run gave them 92 wins, a 10-9 one-on-one lead against the Yankees to ensure they stay home for Tuesday’s shootout.
The soon-forgotten teams fought until the final hour amid oversized goggles and bubbly splurges, only to pivot from chaotic travel logistics to early autumn time.
Farewell to the Toronto Blue Jays, who leveled the Baltimore Orioles for a third game in a row, their 12-4 win requiring only a Yankee or Red Sox defeat to force a game tiebreaker—or by both. Two-day, three-game playoffs. And safe travel to the Seattle Mariners, only one of five clubs to suffer a playoff impact, to lose on Sunday.
Got it all?
Well, here’s what’s next.
The Yankees and Red Sox will face off at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, Gerrit Cole will face Nathan Iovaldi and the winner will advance to a five-game AL Division Series starting Thursday at the former champion Rez.
The Dodgers will send Missouri native and NL Cy Young Award favorite Max Scherzer, 37, against the St. Louis Cardinals and 40-year-old Adam Wainwright at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.
The winner awaits in Friday’s NLDS: the record-setting giants who ducked every punch thrown by the mighty Dodgers before leaving no doubt in their final game.
Perhaps on the final day of the game, in which NL pitchers are forced to bat, Giants starter Logan Webb closed out a home run, single and sacrificial fly as San Francisco beat the San Diego Padres 11-4, Denying the Dodgers’ 10-3 win against Milwaukee.
“You’ll have to work hard,” catcher Buster Posey, the lone remaining Giant who played on his 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Series champions, “to see a better pennant race.”
Oh, there are a few other teams in the playoffs: The Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros start the ALDS in Texas on Thursday, while the Atlanta Braves travel to fight the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS starting Friday.
Sundays were far more relaxed in that quartet, playing strings and getting ready for the postseason.
Like a mixed blessing. They missed out on all the fun.