Chipper Bows Out- AP Photo/John Bazemore
NL WILD CARD- MLB's new expanded playoff format couldn't get through the first game without generating some controversey on Friday when the two National League Wild Card teams faced each other for a single elimination game at Turner Field.
Although the Braves got out to a fairly quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd thanks to a 2-run David Ross homer, the Cardinals came back in the top of the 4th to take the lead thanks to a throwing error from Braves 3B Chipper Jones followed by a a hit and some productive outs, giving the redbirds a 3-2 lead before the Braves were able to get out of the inning. This was followed by a Matt Holliday solo homer to make it 4-2 in the top of the 6th and another costly throwing error in the top of the 7th.
The Braves would get a run back on a Bourne RBI groundout in the bottom of the 7th and looked like they had a rally going in the bottom of the 8th until this happened.
Seemingly determined to take the heat off the NFL's replacement referees, Atlanta thought they had the bases loaded when what should've been a routine flyout to shallow left off the bat of Andrelton Simmons instead fell between Cards shortstop Pete Kozma and Matt Holliday. The disputed call led to irate Braves fans throwing garbage on the field and a 20 minute delay as the grounds crew attempted to clean up as the teams waited out the deluge in their respective dugouts.
As it turned out, that was the last, best chance for Atlanta. The Braves played the remainder of the game under protest and the Cardinals would go on to win by a final of 6-3. Before the final out was recorded, umpire Sam Holbrook's call had already drawn comparisons to the Seattle Seahawk's disputed 14-12 'Fail Mary' or 'Touchdeception' win over the Green Bay Packers when replacement NFL referees had alternately signaled touchdown and interception as time expired during the September 24th game.
However, as many Braves fans and players attested postgame, it wasn't the call that had cost them the game, but rather the errors that eventually led to St Louis Cardinals runs.
The win means that the defending World Series Champion St Louis Cardinals will face the reigning NL East pennant winners in Washington DC on Saturday. Interestingly, the Nationals-Cardinals game on Sunday night will mark the first time since 1933 there has been playoff baseball in the nation's capital.
Friday night also marked a couple of milestones- it was the final game in Braves third baseman Chipper Jones' 19 year career. Jones- who spent his entire career with Atlanta- had a career batting average of .303 with 2726 hits, 1623 RBI and 468 home runs.
This also was the first postseason win for freshman Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and the first Cardinals postseason win without Tony La Russa as manager since 1987.
ELSEWHERE IN MLB PLAYOFFS- The Baltimore Orioles were rewarded for their first playoff appearence since 1997 with a 5-1 win over the defending AL champion Texas Rangers on Friday night. O's starter Joe Saunders went 5 and two thirds innings and got the win against the Rangers' Yu Darvish. Although both starters would give up a run early, Adam Jones would come home on a JJ Hardy sac fly in the top of the 6th and Nate McClouth would get an RBI single in the top of the 7th to make it 3-1 Baltimore.
3B Manny Machado would get credited with an RBI single while McClouth would get another RBI in the form of a sac-fly in the 9th to make it 5-1. That would be the final score that sent the back to back AL champs packing on Friday night and set up a rematch with the team they faced in the next-to-last time they were in the postseason, the New York Yankees.
OTHER MLB NEWS- Detroit Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera has become baseball's first Triple Crown winner in 45 years. For the 2012 season, Cabrera led the AL in with a .330 batting average, 44 homers and 139 RBI.
The last Triple Crown winner was in 1967 when Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski won the honors. Cabrera is also the first player from Latina America to win the Triple Crown.
Detroit clinched the AL Central title last week and will play the AL West Champion Oakland A's on Saturday in what will be a rematch of the 2006 ALCS.
BOSTON RED SOX- The Boston Red Sox regular season ended with a whimper following a three game sweep in the Bronx at the hands of the archrival Yankees, going 7-22 since Labor Day weekend and a disastrous West Coast road trip. All but five games took place against opponents in the AL East, with every game after September 7th taking place against the Devil Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays or Yankees. The month-long freefall marked an anti-climatic finish to the centennial season of Fenway Park.
A day after the close of the 2012 Red Sox season, the Red Sox made it official and fired manager Bobby Valentine. The 69-93 finish to the regular season under Valentine was Boston's worst in nearly 50 years and good for dead last in the AL East.
Valentine's dismissal has led to speculation that the Red Sox are actively pursuing former Red Sox pitching coach and current Toronto manager John Farrell.
AP Photo/Bill WippertNFL- Tom Brady and the New England Patriots rallied from a 14-7 defecit at haltime against Buffalo to win their first AFC East matchup of the 2012 season.
The Pats were fortunate to be down by just one TD before the half. Trailing 14-7 and With just over 2 minutes to go in the first half, Wes Welker fumbled after catching a 14 yard pass deep in New England's own end. However the Bills fumbled at the Patriots 4-yard line and Vince Wilfork was able to recover.
Even with the fortutious turn of events, Buffalo was able to take a 21-7 lead on a 68 yard completion and run from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to WR Donald Jones on their 1st posession of the 3rd. However, New England would come back to tie it by outtung together back to back TD drives while limiting the Bills offense to a couple of short porsessions where they had to punt almost immediately. The Partiots took the lead early in the 4th with a 28 yard reception and TD run from Brady to TE Rob Gronkowski to make it 21-28 and the Patriots never looked back from there, going on to win by a final of 52-28. RB Stevan Ridley had a pair of rushing TDs while Brandon Bolden and Tom Bary each had a rushing TD between them. Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Lloyd each caught TD passes.
This Sunday, the 2-2 Patriots will return home to Foxbourough and take on a familiar face in a new uniform when they play the Denver Broncos and QB Peyton Manning. Kickoff is set for 4:25 ET and the game will be televised on CBS.