I went to bed last night with the Red Sox up 3-2 in a rain delay and the Rays trailing the Yankees 7-0. I woke up to the radio station telling me I missed one of the most historic stretches of baseball ever.
Watch the clock. It is the 12th inning in St. Petersburg, the ninth in Baltimore. Almost simultaneously Big Money was about to win out again. The Red Sox were an inning away from a flight to Texas. […] In Baltimore, Papelbon, breathing fire and purpose, struck out Adam Jones and then Mark Reynolds, who had no chance. In the press box at Tropicana Field, Orioles-Red Sox is on the television and the two games are synched nearly perfectly, pitchers moving into their windups in tandem. With two out, Papelbon gives up a double to Chris Davis. One strike away from victory, he then gives up a run-scoring double to Nolan Reimold.
Tie game in Baltimore. In St. Pete, Upton steps in to hit against Scott Proctor. Then he steps out because the crowd is roaring over Reimold’s double. Then he struck out.
Longoria was next, and he stepped out twice because the crowd was reacting to the Andino’s game-winner in Baltimore, a base hit to left that finishes Boston. The Red Sox players walk into the visitor’s clubhouse at Camden Yards just in time to see Longoria take Proctor’s 2-2 pitch over the short fence in left.
It was over. In the span of two minutes, 1,000 miles away, what couldn’t be settled for 161 games was settled. The Red Sox were one strike away from the playoffs; the Rays one from extinction. All was reversed.
It’s not every year you can say you watched your team with the World Series. It’s not every decade you can say you watched your team do the improbable by blowing an unblowable lead with a month to go. In many ways this was very much like a pre-2004 season. The splashy offseason acquisitions, the terrible start, the incredible four month stretch where they couldn’t lose and then the 7-20 record in September when the wheels just fell off.
As Ron Burgundy would say, “I’m not even mad, I’m just impressed.”