And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
September 30, 2013
Marlins 1, Tigers 0: It's not often a 100-loss team ends the year with a beer shower celebration. But it's not often a guy on a 100-loss team -- or any team for that matter -- throws a no-hitter on the final day while winning via a walkoff wild pitch. Congratulations Henderson Alvarez. Sorry about having to get that hug from Jeff Loria afterward. Oh, also weird: the Tigers shut the Marlins out until the eighth using three starting pitchers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello. So no, not your typical Game 162.
Rays 7, Blue Jays 6: The Rays almost woofed away a playoff spot completely. Now, thanks to the stumble at the end, they are still stuck with a Game 163 and potentially two one-and-done games rather than just one. Oh, well, that's what baseball wants, that's what baseball gets.
Rangers 6, Angels 2: Way to finish strong against a team that hasn't been playing bad baseball of late. Texas has seven straight wins. But if the Rangers don't win an eighth and then a ninth in a row, it's all over.
Pirates 4, Reds 2: And they'll meet again on Tuesday, this time up the river in Pittsburgh. A three-game sweep for the Pirates. Now we get to see if momentum means anything. Hint: it doesn't, historically speaking. But if the Pirates win, people will still say it's a thing.
Indians 5, Twins 1: The Indians finish hot. And now they hope that Texas and Tampa Bay go 19 innings and use every single pitcher tonight.
Braves 12, Phillies 5: Big offense for the Braves, and no one fought with anyone, which is nice. Although really, between yelling at the opposition over home run trots and coaches fighting with players, the Braves are giving me a 1970s A's-Yankees vibe. Maybe they'll dysfunction themselves all the way to the World Series title. As for the Phillies: thank god this year is over.
Orioles 7, Red Sox 6: A loss, yes, even though they were up early, but the Sox finish at 97-65, tied for the best record in baseball. This was basically a spring training game for Boston. For the Orioles: a good season. And an abject lesson in the difference between the ball bouncing one way in one year and the other way the next.
Royals 4, White Sox 1: An 86-win year makes it the best since 1989 for the Royals. They finished the month 17-10, making it their best month of the year. Gonna be a trendy pick next season. For the White Sox? Well, the didn't lose 100. I guess that's something.
Mets 3, Brewers 2: The Mets rallied with two in the eight. Eric Young Jr. took the stolen base crown. Otherwise, a pretty forgettable season for both clubs this year. At least the Mets, unlike the Brewers, had some things to grow on in the form of young pitching. Fans of both clubs are probably both happy for winter.
Yankees 5, Astros 1: Fourteen-inning game, 15th straight loss for the Astros. But it may be the Yankees who have the more uncertain future. Nowhere to go but up for Houston. The Yankees could be on the verge of a rebuild, a reload, a rebound year or a total cratering. Gonna be an interesting offseason for Brian Cashman.
Cardinals 4, Cubs 0: The Cards finish with a tie for the best record in baseball, home-field advantage in the NL playoffs and a date with the Wild Card winner rather than a series with the Dodgers. Not a bad way to roll into the playoffs.
Diamondbacks 3, Nationals 2: Farewell, Davey Johnson, who ends his managerial career his career with a record of 1,372-1,071. Farewell, Nationals, most experts' pick to win the NL East this year. For the D-backs, grit wasn't good enough.
Athletics 9, Mariners 0: Bang meets whimper. Six pitchers combine for the shutout, and now the A's look forward to a playoff rematch with the Tigers. Some starters sat, others left the game early; either way it didn't matter. The M's now will look for a new manager. It should totally be Ozzie Guillen, right?
Giants 7, Padres 6: Two runs in the ninth for the come-from-behind win. It was Hunter Pence, the Giants' new $90 million man, who did the honors. Three RBI overall.
Rockies 2, Dodgers 1: Todd Helton's career comes to an end. With a strikeout, alas, but he'll remember the better stuff. Nice ovation from the Dodgers fans for Helton at the end. L.A. now heads to Atlanta. God, I hope Brian McCann doesn't kill Yasiel Puig for not playing the game the right way at some point, but it could very well happen.
And with that, And That Happen bids you adieu for the year. Yes, we have a Game 163 to go, but ATH is a creature of the regular season.
And it's been a good season. But we now shift into a different gear -- the playoff gear -- which is wonderful for its own purposes but which is just ... something else. For me, baseball is about the day-in-day-out of the regular season, and its lack of pitched drama is what makes it a true pastime. I like the playoffs fine, but there's nothing like April-September baseball. And every year at this time, I feel a bit sad about its passing, even if the next month will be exciting and memorable.
Oh, well. Thanks for reading every morning. This feature will see you again next year.
Craig writes the HardballTalk blog for NBC Sports.com