|NL playoff race goes extra innings: Padres-Rockies in 1-game tiebreaker for final spot|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 30 September 2007 14:29|
A wild finish Sunday gave fans an extra treat: A one-game tiebreaker between the Padres and Colorado Rockies for the NL wild-card spot.
Hours after one final failure by the New York Mets gave the Phillies the NL East title, the Padres missed a chance to clinch the majors' last playoff slot. Now, they hope their All-Star ace can outpitch Josh Fogg on Monday night.
``I think the spirits and the mood right now is a little downtrodden, but we're going to get it up,'' Peavy said. ``I'm not going to let this happen tomorrow. I can promise you it'll be a new day, the boys will be excited. I mean, this is why we play the game.''
Had the Mets won, there would've been a lot more games. That would have left four teams tied with the same record, and caused a crazy three days of tiebreakers.
As it is, the wild-card winner opens the postseason Wednesday at Philadelphia. The same day, the Chicago Cubs start at Arizona in the other NL series.
The AL pairings already were set: The New York Yankees begin at Cleveland on Wednesday, then the Los Angeles Angels take on Boston at Fenway Park on Thursday.
``Obviously, they've got a lot of playoff experience, more than we've seen,'' Indians slugger Travis Hafner said. ``But it's a five-game series, and we feel good about our team.''
While the Padres lost 11-6 at Milwaukee, Colorado gave itself a chance by holding off Arizona 4-3.
This will be baseball's first one-game playoff since the Mets beat Cincinnati in 1999, and this wild-card winner starts the postseason Wednesday at Philadelphia.
The Phillies and Mets were tied for the NL East lead going into the final day of the regular season. But any drama was quickly drained when 300-game winner Tom Glavine gave up seven runs in the first inning to Florida at Shea Stadium.
``It's something that's going to take a while for us to get over,'' Glavine said after an 8-1 loss.
Rollins scored two runs as the Phillies took an early lead and beat Washington 6-1.
The Mets became the first team to blow a seven-game lead with only 17 games left. Rollins said before the season the Phillies were the team to beat - yet the MVP candidate couldn't have envisioned this ending.
``I'm no prophet, just a baseball player,'' Rollins said.
It made for a neat twist, at any rate. Earlier this year, the Phillies became the first team in history to post 10,000 losses. And their collapse in 1964, when they blew a 6 1/2-game lead with only 12 to play, is the stuff of baseball fables.
``I guess they can't say we were the worst team anymore,'' said Dennis Bennett, the Phils' opening-day starter on that infamous club.
The Phillies returned to the postseason for the first time since 1993. Star Ryan Howard jumped into the stands to celebrate, a couple of players showered fans with a water hose and longtime announcer Harry Kalas sang ``High Hopes'' over the public address system at Citizens Bank Park.
``There's only one more celebration to try and go for now and that's the whole thing,'' Howard said.
While the NL was fraught with tension, the AL was full of fun.
The Yankees, Angels, Red Sox and Indians also gave their regulars time to rest.
In Baltimore, catcher Jorge Posada took over the managing duties from Joe Torre for the day and guided the Yankees to a 10-4 win.
``Everybody had a pretty good time today,'' Torre said.
At Fenway, the Red Sox finished up with a 3-2 loss to Minnesota. There was good will all over the ballpark - the wives of Boston pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima sent Japanese sandwiches and desserts to the press box for the media.