Well, it did not quite work out like that, but we succeeded regardless. Despite dropping six of our last seven, we backed into post season play with some help from Lancaster (Houston Astros affiliate) on Saturday night. This is the first time the Quakes have been to the post season in five years. For a core group of us, this will be the third time in three professional seasons that we have made the playoffs. That, in itself, is a feat.
With our magic number at one entering the four-game Bakersfield (Texas Rangers) series, we needed one win, or one Inland Empire loss (Los Angeles Dodgers). After dropping our first two to Bakersfield, coupled with two Inland Empire wins, the originally manageable situation become direr. However, while we were losing on Saturday night, Lancaster maintained an advantage throughout giving us the hope of backing into the playoffs should we not pull it out against Bakersfield. Lancaster ended up squandering a 6-2 in the top of the ninth, but would go on to a 7-6 walk-off win. This clinched our playoff berth, despite our 4-1 loss.
The clinching was a dim light on our otherwise dismal road trip. Our celebration, complete with champagne (which is a step up from collegiate celebratory occasions), seemed a bit tainted due to our play down the stretch. Nonetheless, when more than half of minor league baseball will turn in their uniforms at the conclusion of the regular season, we will live to play another day. To win a League Championship, all you need to do is have a chance.
Major League wild card teams have garnered a lot of attention due to their post season success in recent years. Their success can be attributed to the fact that these teams tend to come into the playoffs the hottest and have been playing meaningful games up until the end of the season.
Despite our losing record, we begin the playoffs alongside everyone else with no wins and no losses. While we never seemed to put things together for a stretch of more than four or five games this season, we had enough of these little spurts to put ourselves in a position to win a title. To overcome the injuries, roster moves (we have no starting pitchers from our initial starting rotation, and only five arms from the opening day roster on the staff), and other adversity that grips a team and be playoff bound is a respectable fear. What we make of this opportunity remains to be seen, although it is our intent to be one of the fourteen minor league teams that will end their playoff run with a win. We begin our season anew with hope and excitement and will see if we can write a victorious ending for the 2009 Quakes.