JEFFREY BROWN: And finally tonight, triumphant wins, catastrophic collapses and a baseball night to remember.
They called it wild card Wednesday, the final night of the regular season, with four teams vying for two remaining spots in baseball's postseason field. And when it was over, the sport had indeed seen one of the wildest nights in its history.
The Saint Louis Cardinals got things started, shutting out the Houston Astros 8-0. At the beginning of September, the Cardinals had trailed the Atlanta Braves by eight-and-a-half games, but had surged in recent weeks, winning 23 of their last 31. The Braves, having faltered all month, still had a chance, needing a win over the Philadelphia Phillies. They went to 13 innings, but a double play ended the game and Atlanta's season, in a stunning collapse.
DAN UGGLA, Atlanta Braves: That's definitely disappointing. You know, whatever happened this last month, I mean, we played our -- we played our butts off all month. It just wasn't in the cards for us, I guess.
JEFFREY BROWN: Instead, the Cards held all the cards. Saint Louis clinched a first-round playoff berth, facing Philadelphia this weekend.
PLAYER: We just kept playing hard and kept winning some games. And they were losing. And we were -- you know, all of a sudden, we're right back in it. And we were able to see it through.
JEFFREY BROWN: In the American league, even more last-minute drama, as the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays also began the night tied for a wild card slot.
The Red Sox led the Baltimore Orioles in the ninth inning, and needed only one out to finish it. But the Orioles scored twice, to win 4-3. Just minutes later, in Tampa, the Rays' third baseman, Evan Longoria, stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 12th inning...
ANNOUNCER: Home run! A home run!
JEFFREY BROWN: ... in a tie game against the New York Yankees. Tampa had trailed 7-0 at one point, but Longoria's heroics sent his team to the playoffs.
EVAN LONGORIA, Tampa Bay Rays: You can't even really put it into words. I mean, we were out here for, I think, the better part of five hours, and then at the end there, it seemed like everything happened in a matter of seconds.
JEFFREY BROWN: Ecstasy for Tampa, and agony for Boston, one of baseball's best teams all year, but losers of 20 of their last 27 games and now out of the playoffs altogether.