By Jose M. Romero
Four Game 5s. Seven ninth-inning-or later rallies, either tiebreaking or come-from-behind. Two of the most dramatic comebacks from huge deficits in postseason history. One organizational decision in September that, in the end, could have cost a team at least one win, and ultimately, the right to move on to the league championship series.
Baseball had a great opening week, I’d say. Smashing. Mind-blowing. Memorable.
The game and its commissioner don’t always get everything right, but the one-game playoff decision was good if only for one reason – it got the right teams into the American and National League Division Series.
No offense to Texas Rangers fans, but if you lose at home in the play-in game, you didn’t belong. And sorry Atlanta Braves fans, a bad call on that infield-fly popup sealed your team’s fate. Not fair, but look at the St. Louis Cardinals now.
How epic was the Cardinals’ comeback from a 6-0 deficit in Game 5 against the Washington Nationals? Nats fans won’t soon forget how their team’s bullpen failed them and allowed the scrappy Cardinals to tie and go ahead in the ninth inning on the road.
One strike. One strike was all the Nationals needed, and Drew Storen couldn’t get it. A 7-5 win unraveled into a 9-7 loss.
The Nationals will never know what could have been, because they didn’t field their best roster for the postseason. They were missing starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, whom the organization elected to shut down before the postseason in a decision that looks horribly wrong now. Could Strasburg have won one more postseason game for the Nats and delivered them the series? No one will ever know, but Strasburg figured to be a better option than struggling Edwin Jackson.
That was Dramatic Comeback No. 1. The other was the San Francisco Giants rallying from being down 2-0 in the five-game series against the Cincinnati Reds, and taking it 3-2 with three straight wins in Ohio. Unbelievable.
I didn’t think the Orioles would beat the Yankees, but it was really close. Where would the Yankees be right now if not for Raul Ibanez’s home runs in Game 3? I felt the Oakland A’s were on such a roll that they would find a way to get past the Detroit Tigers, especially after that stirring Game 4 walkoff win. It didn’t happen. Justin Verlander was lights out on the mound in Game 5.
I thought the Giants were through after they lost Games 1 and 2 at home. But they showed so much resolve and hit the ball incredibly well in Cincinnati.
All of these amazing moments and events in baseball, and somehow fans ended up with four Game 5s. It’s hard to pick a favorite, as even a hot team can lose its mojo in a day with the way things have gone.
Honestly, none of the teams left really do much for me. I’d probably pick the NFL over both series at this point. But baseball provided plenty of drama to watch over the past week, and I’m glad I saw as much as I did.