About Last Night: Wild Card Showdown

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In case you were out living a life of leisure, here’s what you missed in sports on Tuesday.

  • Going into the final day of the season, the AL wild-card race is a dead heat. Boston nearly blew an 8-4 lead, but the first two career home runs by rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who only started due to injuries, were the difference in an 8-7 win over the Orioles. Lavarnway is a graduate of Yale, where he majored in philosophy. “Who the **** is this kid?!” asked irate Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, a media darling for his Harvard pedigree. “That’s my ******** turf, you *** ******* ****! **** **! *** **** ***, *** ******* *** ** * *****!”

  • Tampa Bay held up their end of the bargain, using a three-run homer by Matt Joyce to race past the Yankees 5-3. Yankee manager Joe Girardi solemnly expressed his disappointment with the loss afterward, a performance that’s already generating Oscar buzz and leading critics to call it “the acting feat of a lifetime.”
  • The National League wild-card race is dead even as well. Roy Oswalt pitched six scoreless innings, and the Phillies dealt the Braves a 7-1 loss. It was yet another bad start for Braves starter Derek Lowe, who was pulled in the fifth inning. “I’m man enough to say I’ve had a terrible year,” he told reporters after the game. “But am I man enough not to cry?” His eyes welled up with tears, and he squeaked out a “maybe” before dashing into the privacy of the showers.
  • Sensing a window of opportunity, the Cardinals came back from a 5-0 deficit to rout the Astros 13-6. St. Louis is now tied with Atlanta for the wild-card spot with just a game remaining. And while the Braves have to face the best team in the major leagues, the Cardinals have to face the worst. “Good odds,” said a defiant Tony La Russa, “but I’ve overcome good odds before.”
  • The Rangers hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning on the way to topping the Angels 10-3. The win keeps them a game ahead of Detroit in the battle for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and the right to play the wild-card team rather than the Yankees. Also in the game, Ian Kinsler stole third base to join the 30/30 club (30 home runs, 30 steals). When told he had made the club, Kinsler was puzzled. “I know about the women, but what are the other 30?”
  • Trailing 6-1 in the bottom of the tenth, it didn’t seem like the Diamondbacks had much hope. But an incredible six-run rally, capped off by a Ryan Roberts walk-off grand slam, gave them a 7-6 win over the Dodgers and a chance to earn home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs tomorrow. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was philosophical in the aftermath. “Am I man enough not to cry?” he asked himself in front of reporters. “Yes. These are tears of joy. Now please excuse me while I call someone who is definitely not my mother.”
  • It was a bad day in Champions League action for the Manchester teams, as Man United barely managed to salvage a 3-3 tie with Switzerland’s Basel, and Man City fell 2-0 in Germany to Bayern Munich. It hurt the the championship odds for both teams, and it doesn’t bode well for the irrepressible spirit of the musically inclined urchins in the Manchester iron foundries, either.
  • SEC commissioner Mike Silve says his conference would like the BCS to reconsider the two-teams-per-conference limit in the five BCS bowl games. “Let’s face it,” he said, “with more SEC teams, you’re going to have better football, higher ratings, and more intelligent fans.” He paused, trying not to break up laughing. “I’m kidding about that last one. Obviously.”
  • Adrian Peterson has no explanation for why he isn’t getting as many carries as expected, and his father told the media that he’s become the league’s “highest-paid decoy.” The words were seen as an insult to “Decoy Danny,” the actual plastic decoy signed by the Kansas City Chiefs to take the brunt of head coach Todd Haley’s physical and verbal abuse.

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Filed Under: About Last Night, Adrian Peterson, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, Manchester City, Manchester United, Minnesota Vikings, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers

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Shane Ryan is a contributing writer for Grantland. His book about the young stars of the PGA Tour will be published by Random House in early 2015.

Archive @ ShaneRyanHere