Undeniably, the wild card has been good for baseball, but for the Red Sox this season, it's been less fun than most pennant races.
Boston, which led the AL wild card standings by as many as nine games at the start of September, remained in a tie with Tampa Bay after both teams won Tuesday night. The Red Sox barely hung on in the late innings to shave Baltimore, 8-7, while the Rays made a triple play that turned their team around and may have saved the season.
|Lavarnway: 4 RBI|
Boston got all of its runs via the long ball as Jacoby Ellsbury and Marco Scutaro also homered. The Red Sox staved off defeat on the strength of 3 1/3 solid innings of relief work by Alfredo Aceves, who's been their most reliable reliever. Aceves came on in the 4th in relief of Eric Bedard, who had thrown 84 pitches and given up three runs to the O's. Aceves limited the Orioles to just one run on three hits, the run coming on Jones' 6th inning homer.
With the regular season ending Wednesday, Boston sends Jon Lester (15-9) to the mound on three days rest, knowing that Aceves will be unavailable should he falter. Baltimore will start Alfredo Simon, a hard-throwing right hander who's gone 4-9 in fifteen starts this season. Simon spent part of last season as the Orioles' closer, picking up 17 saves in 21 chances.
In Tampa, the Rays survived a bases-loaded threat in the 6th inning that might have ended their post-season hopes if not for the quick hands of Tampa's infielders. Russell Martin smashed a hot grounder at third baseman Evan Longoria, who touched third and whipped a throw to Ben Zobrist for the force at second. Zobrist gunned the ball to Sean Rodriguez at first, nipping the diving Martin for a triple play. The Yankees had already taken a 3-2 lead in the inning on Nick Swisher's RBI double and loaded the bases when starter Jeremy Hellickson intentionally walked Jorge Posada.
|Joyce: 3-run HR|
The Rays host the Yankees on Wednesday night, sending David Price to the mound, who will also be working on three day's rest. The Yankees have not named a starter, though manager Joe Girardi has said that he will not use any pitchers on the post-season roster, as the Yankees have already clinched the division with the best record in the league and will face either Detroit or Texas in the opening round.
Should Boston and Tampa Bay remain tied at the end of Wednesday's activities, the Rays would host a one-game playoff Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
|Oswalt: 6 scoreless|
In Houston, the Cardinals battled back from a five run deficit, scoring five times in the 4th inning, then putting the game away with four runs in the 7th, three in the 8th and one more in the top of the 9th. Nick Punto went 4-for-5 with a solo homer and two RBI and rookie Allen Craig blasted a three-run bomb in the eighth inning to seal the win. Craig was 2-for-3, scored three times and drove in four runs.
|Craig: 3-run HR|
Atlanta will throw Tim Hudson (16-10) in their season finale at home against the Phillies. Hudson has a 7-8 mark lifetime against Philadelphia with a 3.75 ERA. Joe Blanton goes up the bump for the Phillies. Blanton is 1-4 with a 5.47 ERA against the Braves lifetime and is 1-2 in ten starts this season.
The Braves' game begins at 7:10 pm EDT, while the Cardinals and Astros get underway at 8:05. If the Braves and Cardinals are tied after Wednesday, St. Louis would host a one-game playoff Thursday night.