Major League Baseball saved its best for last, as fans were treated to one of the most exciting nights in history Wednesday on the final day of the season.
Four teams came into the evening with a chance to punch its ticket to the postseason. The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox were tied atop the American League Wild Card race at 90-71, while the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals were deadlocked for the lead in the National League Wild Card race at 89-72.
If all four teams won their respective games, two single-game playoffs would be scheduled for Thursday to determine who would be going to the postseason and who would be headed home.
Turns out, there would be no playoff needed for either league.
First, the Cardinals took care of their opponent, beating the worst team in baseball, the Astros, 8-0 in Houston. St. Louis later watched the Braves squander a 3-2 lead against the Phillies in the ninth inning, then lose to Philadelphia, 4-3 in 13 innings. The Cardinals, watching the game, learned they had won the N.L. Wild Card after trailing Atlanta by eight-and-a-half games on September 5th.
The Rays looked to be in dire straits after falling behind the Yankees 7-0 in Tampa. It looked like their only hope was for the Red Sox to lose in Baltimore, thus forcing a playoff. After an hour rain delay at Camden Yards, a 3-2 Boston lead ended with a 4-3 Orioles walk-off win in the ninth inning, leaving the Rays to decide their own fate.
Tampa caught fire, scoring six runs in the eighth inning to pull within one of New York, then tied the game at 7-7 on a two-strike, two-out solo home run by pinch-hitter Dan Johnson. Seconds following the Red Sox walk-off loss, Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria hit a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the twelfth inning to solidify the Rays comeback and clinch a spot in the postseason. Tampa trailed Boston by nine games in the standings September 2nd.
The Rays now face the Rangers, while the Tigers face-off against the Yankees in the American League first round of the playoffs beginning Friday. The Phillies host the Cardinals, and the Diamondbacks take-on the Brewers in the opening round of the National League playoffs.
The postseason has a long way to go to top tonight's regular season crazy conclusion.