NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Pretty neat way to warm up for the playoffs, huh?
A benchwarmer hitting .108 saves Tampa Bay against the big, bad Yankees. A $142 million star lets it slip away for Boston. A rookie closer falters in Atlanta. An ace delivers for St. Louis.
Wild-card Wednesday lived up to its billing, and then some. Fans needed three TVs, and maybe a few cups of joe to see how it all turned out for Joe Maddon, Joe Girardi and Chipper Jones.
“One of the greatest days in baseball history,” Mark Teixeira said.
Minute by minute, inning by inning, the races took shape. One out to go, one strike to go. Then, it all fell apart. Startling comebacks, historic collapses.
And when Evan Longoria hit his second home run of the game, connecting after midnight at Tropicana Field in the 12th inning to lift the Rays over the Yankees 8-7, everything was all set.
The biggest developments for the Yankees came postgame when it was announced Freddy Garcia will start Game 3 of the AL division series against Detroit. And Girardi has no doubts that slugger Alex Rodriguez, a late scratch due to a sore right knee, will play in postseason opener Friday night.
“We’re going to the postseason,” Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said. “We forget about what happened in the past.”
Garcia will follow CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova in the three-man, first-round rotation. A.J. Burnett will move from a starting role into the bullpen.
Rodriguez said his knee, which was surgically repaired in July, was a little sore and tight from the artificial turf at Tampa Bay.
“It’s fine,” Rodriguez said. “It was wise (for the day off) to get ready for Friday. Nothing to be worried about.”
Yankees catcher Jesus Montero left after getting hit by a ball on the last two fingers of his right hand. X-rays were negative.
“At the time, felt a lot of pain,” Montero said. “Luckily, nothing happened. It’s perfect. I’m ready to go.”
It’s not even October yet. So get ready, no rest for the bleary eyed.
“Just when you think you’ve see it all,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. “You have a team down seven runs in the eighth and Boston winning. It was very bizarre.”
The playoffs start Friday, and a marquee matchup is already on deck at Yankee Stadium. Justin Verlander, having won the pitchers’ Triple Crown by leading the AL in wins, ERA and strikeouts, starts for Detroit against Sabathia at 8:37 p.m. EDT.
A few hours earlier, the best-of-five matchup between the wild-card Rays and Rangers opens in Texas. Jeff Niemann pitches for Tampa Bay against C.J. Wilson.
The NL brackets begin Saturday. Roy Halladay is lined up to start for the Phillies when they host the wild-card Cardinals, while Arizona and ace Ian Kennedy visit Yovani Gallardo and Milwaukee.
So, no one-game tiebreakers needed. Nice how things wrapped up, too, under the current postseason format — next year, it’s expected that each league will produce a pair of wild-card teams.
Are you OK with Garcia starting Game 3? Let us know below…
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)