Some other things happened last night besides the Red Sox collapse. It's going to be covered to death today, so my thoughts on it are not unlike anyone else's. But yes, other events happened that didn't involve Jonathan Papelbon blowing a save with two outs and two strikes, Jon Lester seeing a fantastic pitching performance turning into a no decision and Ryan Lavarnway hitting into a double play with the bases juiced in the top of the 9th inning. I mean, there were other men playing baseball besides Derek Jeter 2.0, though his mother still probably calls him "Robert Andino", who figuratively, emotionally and physically punched Red Sox Nation in the gut. Seriously, other games occurred that was not the one in Baltimore, where the 69-93 Orioles were complicit in one of the worst collapses in the 100 plus year history of baseball. I'm not joking everyone - there was more than the 20th loss of the month for the Red Sox, leading to them relinquishing a lead on the wild card once unheard of, even by the brightest minds in the blogosphere. Hopefully you got the point - the Red Sox lost. Let's go down a list:
1. The Atlanta Braves replicating the Red Sox in the National League
On September 1st, the Red Sox held an 8.5 game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL Wild Card. On that same day, the Atlanta Braves held an 8.5 game lead on the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Wild Card.
The Braves, in similar fashion to the Red Sox, blew a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning with an All-Star closer on the mound. Fortunately for the Braves, their loss occurred an hour before the Red Sox loss, and became 2nd half hour Sportscenter fodder when compared with the game in Baltimore. The Braves' demise is just as incredible as the Red Sox, but without most of the press. It's really a shame that their terrible play and incredible collapse won't be written about as much as it should be because of the incredible game in Tampa and the media crush on the Sox. The Braves deserve the same scrutiny and soul-crushing Pedro Gomez sit-down interviews that the Red Sox will endure over the next few months.
What was most surprising about the Braves was how devoid of energy the team was. With the exception of Tim Hudson, Dan Uggla and surprisingly Kris Medlen, those 25 guys looked like they knew they were going to lose that game. As MAMBINO correspondent and Braves fan numero The King pointed out to me, there was never a minute last night where you thought the Braves were going to win. Playing a Phillies team that had dominated them this month, a usually ice-blooded Craig Kimbrel looked petrified up there trying (and failing to) nail down a save. Freddie Freeman took his ABs as if he knew that a double play was coming. Every swing that Jason Heyward took had "pop out" written all over it. The Braves played scared, they played weak and they played like they had already lost. They deserve all the criticism the Red Sox are getting, and will unfortunately dodge a good portion of it.
2. Matt Kemp almost had a 40/40 season
Matt Kemp very nearly had the triple crown this year, leading the NL in homers and RBI, but not average (coming in third to Jose Reyes and then Ryan Braun). But with that out of reach with only two games left to play, Kemp realized that a 40 homer/40 steal season (done by only 4 other players EVER) was still possible.
Kemp's first two ABs of the night didn't go well - he got hit by a pitch and meekly grounded out to shortstop. The outlook of a 40/40 season became bleaker by the pitch. The game got out of reach for the Diamondbacks, with the Dodgers taking a commanding 7-0 lead in the 7th inning. Most likely with only two at-bats left in the season, Kemp drove the first pitch of the at-bat into left field for his 39th homer. 40/40 season is still in sight.
I would give you a detailed account of what happened during Kemp's 9th inning at-bat, but I was too busy watching Evan Longoria hit a walk-off home run at the exact same moment. I read that Matt struck out swinging.
3. Stephen Strasburg gave up 1 hit in 6 innings
He might strike out 300 guys next year. He's back, and he's incredible.
4. Jose Reyes pulled HIMSELF out of the game after virtually securing a the NL batting title with a hit in the first inning
Ted Williams once had the opportunity to sit after accruing a .3998 batting average with a double header to play and even though the statisticians would have rounded up for him. However, went out there and played anyway, to LEGITIMATELY get to .400. Jose, no one's gonna cryogenically freeze your head for that type of behavior.
5. Jose Valverde his 49th game of the season in 49th chances, and his 51st overall
Whatever. Eric Gagne saved 85 steroid-free games in a row. Call me next August when this might be a possibility.
6. Mike Napoli continued to stick it to his former squad in Anaheim
The day that the LA Times publishes an article decrying the Mike Napoli for Vernon Wells trade as one of the worst trades in Angels history, Napoli gave a gigantic middle finger to Anaheim in the form of two home runs. Napoli batted .339 against the Angels this year, with 4 home runs and a 1.073 OPS against them in 2011.
7. Evan Longoria had the worst home run this side of Mark McGwire
The only iconic home run that was a meeker home run than Longoria's was McGwire's record-breaking 62nd home run in 1998. Michael Kay on the YES Network barely got a "See Ya!" in because he couldn't tell if what Evan's hit could be (what would only happen at Tropicana Field) a home run . We're going to consider that a home run in the annals of history, but here at MAMBINO HQ, it's an inside the park-er. Hit the gym and prep the syringes Evan. That was pretty weak.