AND THEN THERE WAS 1

The Wild Card races in the National and American leagues have gone wacky over the last week.

Some drama, right?

What was a nine-game lead for the Boston Red Sox over the Tampa Bay Rays back on Sept. 4 is now down to just one game. The Los Angeles Angels are three games behind the Red Sox.

The Red Sox came into New York for a three game series against the Yankees and were almost swept before Jacoby Ellsbury hit a three-run home in their 7-4, 14 inning marathon win in the second game of a day-night doubleheader Sunday night.

The Rays held up to their part of the bargain by going out and beating the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-2 and now await a three-game showdown at home with the Yankees, who will start a reliever, Hector Noesi on Monday night and Bartolo Colon on Tuesday.  

Boston will begin the first of a three-game set on Monday at Baltimore.

No team in baseball history has overcome a nine-game deficit in September to clinch a postseason berth. In 1964, the St. Louis Cardinal trailed by 8 1-2 games on Sept. 3 and were able to overtake the Philadelphia Phillies, win the NL East, and eventually the World Series.

While the Rays are 14-10 this month, September has not been the kindest of months for the Red Sox who have won just six of 18 games

Rafael Furcal has struggled as of late in the field but on Sunday he gave the Cardinals more hope that they could be playing in October, hitting a tie-breaking solo homer in the seventh inning to lift St. Louis to a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

The former Brave has had a rough time fielding his position over the last few weeks. Count five errors in a six-game stretch, including a misplay on what could have been a double play in the ninth inning of a 8-6 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday.

“I didn't think home run,” Furcal told Fox Sports Midwest. “I was thinking of trying to make a good swing because I know the top of the lineup was coming up. I wanted to be on base no matter how. … Soon as I hit the ball, I know I hit it pretty good.”

Now they trail the Atlanta Braves by one game for the NL Wild Card spot.

Credit the Cardinals for not giving up when they were 10 1-2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL Wild Card back on Aug. 26. Since then they have gone 20-8, including 15 wins in their last 20 games.

St. Louis will wrap up the season with three games at Houston. The Astros, at 55-104, are the worst team in the majors.

The Washington Nationals had other plans for the Braves this weekend. Many thought the Braves would have it easy in the nation's capital but it was the otherwise by the time they left D.C.

The Braves lost on Saturday, 4-1, to Chien-Ming Wang, who won for the first time in 11 starts this season after missing the last two years following shoulder surgery.

Then on Sunday with the Nationals having nothing to lose, they played the spoiler role one more time as Ross Detwiler held the Braves to four hits in six inning and three reliever came in to seal the win.

Fredi Gonzalez's team has lost 10 of its last 15 games while clinging to the NL Wild Card lead and will finish the season with a three-game series in Atlanta against the Phillies.

“They're fine,” said Gonzalez of his struggling club.

Things won't be such if the Braves squander the Wild Card and end up in a tie with St. Louis. The Cardinals won a coin flip and will host a one-game playoff at home Thursday. They won the regular season series 5-1.

LAST GAME AT HOME FOR PUJOLS?

Cardinals fans gave Albert Pujols a 40-second standing ovation before his first at-bat Sunday afternoon on what could have been his last game at Busch Stadium.

Pujols, who will be a free agent at the end of the regular season, stepped off the plate and tipped his helmet to the crowd, but these fans might still get to see him again if the Cardinals somehow take the NL Wild Card from the Braves.

“It's pretty emotional,” the three-time NL MVP said. “You have the best fans in baseball. Over 3 million people every year come and support this ballclub. Obviously, it's not over. Our season's not over and I just want to make sure that I stay focused and do what I need to do.”

Whether or not he remains a Cardinal or signs with another team is something that remains to be seen and after the game he just declined to further comment on his impending free agency.

“Those decisions are going to come, like I told you guys in Spring Training, in the off-season,” Pujols said. “Right now, I'm still a Cardinal. I'm going to do my best to help this organization to get to the next level, and that's my job. If I try to get distracted, thinking about what's going to happen this off-season, what's going to happen the next four games, I don't think I'm doing my job.”

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro became the youngest player in franchise history to reach 200 hits in a season, a highlight in what has become one of the worst seasons in team history.

Castro led off Friday night's game with a single to center field.

According to mlb.com, since the modern era began 111 years ago in 1900, Castro became the 10th player to get 200 hits in a season at the age of 21 or younger. Alex Rodriguez (1995) is the other Latino in the group.

As 23-year-olds,  Billy Herman hit 206 in 1932 and Augie Galan had 203 in 1935.

Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at elpiloto137@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc.

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Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at elpiloto137@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc

 

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