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The Lineup Is Set For Major League Baseball's Playoffs

Oct 3, 2019
Originally published on October 3, 2019 9:13 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

I'd like to take a moment this morning to apologize to people in Oakland, Calif., and Milwaukee, Wis. If you're a baseball fan in either city, you have just suffered through one of the most painful experiences in sports. After a 162-game season, your teams were forced into a wild card game. One game - win, and you cruise into the playoffs; lose, and you're just done. And the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland A's are just done.

The Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays are moving on, thanks to some heroism. Juan Soto had a dramatic go-ahead hit in the bottom of the eighth for the Nats on Tuesday. In the American League wild card game last night, less drama but definitely heroism. Here's what the fifth pitch of the game sounded like.

(SOUNDBITE OF BAT CRACKING)

MATT VASGERSIAN: Diaz with a ball well hit to right field; Laureano back - he looks up, and that one is gone.

(CHEERING)

GREENE: That was Yandy Diaz with a lead-off homer for Tampa Bay. Matt Vasgersian called it for ESPN. This moment, just days ago, would have seemed impossible. Diaz was just off for two months after he fouled a ball of his left foot and fractured it. When he returned earlier this week, he didn't even manage a hit. And so it's actually kind of surprising he even started in last night's crucial game. But the playoffs, as we know, are where we find impractical heroes. And two innings after that homerun, Diaz delivered again.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VASGERSIAN: Same swing, same ball, same result - Yandy Diaz did it again.

GREENE: He sure did. He drove another fastball over the right field wall, helping the Rays beat Oakland 5-1. After the game, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash talked about putting Diaz in the lineup.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KEVIN CASH: I don't know if we expected that type of performance, but he's made us look a lot smarter than what we really are.

GREENE: After the game, Diaz, for his part, said through an interpreter, I am probably the happiest guy on the team right now. A lot of happy people in Washington and in Tampa. Sorry to Oakland and Milwaukee, but you could have it worse. Just try being a Pittsburgh Pirates fan.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOALS' "BIRCH TREE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.