Quadrupleheader delivers thrilling day of drama

Quadrupleheader delivers thrilling day of drama

An epic drama in four acts played out across the country and around the clock Friday, steering the plot of this 2014 postseason through another wild series of twists and turns.

A cameo performance by the Orioles' Delmon Young and ensemble casts of Cardinals and Giants proved to be winning formulas early in the day. Then the Royals finished off the quadrupleheader of 13-plus hours with a blockbuster of a nightcap, an 11th-inning homer by Eric Hosmer putting a thrilling ending on a four-star day of baseball.

By the time the day-long drama had finished, the Orioles and Royals had put themselves on the cusp of advancing, Baltimore leading 2-0 in the best-of-five American League Division Series heading to Detroit and Kansas City heading home in the same sweet spot against the Angels. In the National League Division Series, the visiting teams both took the first lead, the Giants outdueling the Nationals and the Cardinals with an amazing rally against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

And it all happened on one glorious day -- or technically two with Friday's action lasting into Saturday for most of the country.

Along the way, the Giants won an NL-best ninth-consecutive postseason game dating back to their 2012 World Series run, demonstrating that knowing the postseason script can only help.

"These guys, they have been through it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of his October-savvy club. "You know, they have a calmness about them. When you have your back as many times against the wall as you can in the postseason, that experience is invaluable."

The experience that is the 2014 postseason has been priceless. It's developing into an instant classic after a four-game feature presentation Friday.

With a second run of four games on Monday still possible, the AL will take the day off Saturday before two potential clinching games on Sunday, but the NL will be back at it with the Nationals and Dodgers hoping to earn splits in their home ballparks. Since the Wild Card first came into play in 1995, 17 teams lost the first two games of a Division Series at home. Only two of them -- the 2012 Giants and the '01 Yankees -- came back to win that series.

Saturday's Senior Circuit double dip begins with Giants-Nationals in Game 2 of their NLDS at 5:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1, matching veteran right-hander Tim Hudson and Washington's Jordan Zimmermann -- in his first start since a no-hitter on the regular season's final day.

That will be followed with Cardinals-Dodgers in another NLDS Game 2 at 9:30 p.m. ET on MLB Network, the home team running right-hander Zack Greinke to the mound against the Cardinals' Lance Lynn.

It was in Los Angeles that this postseason saw a second eight-run inning in as many days on Friday, and there already have been six innings or four or more runs in the first four days -- so much for pitching having the upper hand like it did again in the regular season.

Exhibit A: The Kershaw-Adam Wainwright duel added up to 14 runs on 19 hits in 11 innings, combined. After the Dodgers knocked out Wainwright in the fifth, Kershaw let a five-run lead slip away and the Cardinals wound up winning, 10-9, in a game that included a benches-clearing discussion early and a bases-clearing rally late.

"I'm sure everybody in baseball was expecting a one-run game," said Cardinals leadoff man Matt Carpenter, whose three-run double was the big blow in his team's eight-run seventh. "We ended up getting one, but we didn't think it would be 10-9."

Earlier, in the opening game of Friday's super-session, Young delivered the master stroke of yet another eighth-inning comeback for the Orioles, ripping a bases-clearing pinch-double that flipped the lead for a stunning 7-6 victory over the Tigers.

"I think everybody in the dugout, we look at him and go 'How does he do it?'" Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy said of Young, 10-for-20 in a pinch during the regular season. "Everybody is just confused."

It was just before the eighth-inning magic in Baltimore when things got started down the road in the nation's capital, a low-scoring affair that ended in a 3-2 Giants victory over Stephen Strasburg and the Nats.

An overturned call at second base via replay helped lead to the Giants' first run in the third -- the run scoring on the first of two big hits for rookie Joe Panik, who joined Wild Card-hitting stars Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt with multi-hit games. They also combined to set veteran Jake Peavy into Hulk mode with a dazzling 4-6-3 double play in the fifth.

Following the stunning turn of events up the road at Dodger Stadium, the Royals and Angels once again battled into extra innings in a low-scoring affair to put a beautiful cap on the day, the Royals becoming the first team to play in extra innings in their first three games of a postseason.

With Lorenzo Cain having legged out an infield single, Hosmer put a charge into the Royals dugout and a hush into the Angel Stadium crowd much the same way Mike Moustakas had done the night before. Hosmer's two-run shot, deep to right, marked the first time a team had hit extra-inning home runs in consecutive postseason games.

A matter of minutes later, the Royals had wrapped up a 4-1 win -- their sixth straight postseason victory dating back to that 1985 World Series run that stood for so long as Kansas City's last October experience. With that Royals win, a remarkable day of baseball was complete, the book closed on an epic.

Encore!