Carlos Pena found his stroke at the plate in Games 3 and 4 against Texas to help the Rays even the American League Division Series at two games apiece.
With the Rays five outs from being eliminated in the eighth inning of Game 3 on Saturday, Pena hit a game-tying single. In the ninth, he hit an insurance home run. On Sunday, Pena hit a one-out triple in his first at-bat and then scored the game's first run. Two innings later, Pena hit an RBI double to help led the Rays to a 5-2 win.
Over the course of four straight at-bats, Pena hit for the cycle with a single, home run, triple and then a double.
"I didn't even notice that until someone mentioned it to me," Pena told MLB.com. "It's something that just happens. You never think of it."
"It's fun, man. It's a lot of fun. That's what I dreamed of as a kid -- just to be in the postseason and get the big hits. To be able to live the dream, I'm just extremely grateful."
"He's a team leader," teammate Matt Joyce said. "The guy always has a smile on his face, and he's always positive. He could strike out three times and come back the next day and he's laughing and joking. It doesn't say enough about his character and who he is as a person. I'm so happy for him the last two days and what he's done for us."
Madson keeps team loose with Halloween mask: Doing his best to keep himself and his teammates loose, Phillies reliever Ryan Madson has been wearing a mask he found at a Halloween store during the playoffs -- most notably while in the shower and in the hot tub.
"Hot tub is where it debuted," Madson told MLB.com. "That was cool. But the first guy that walked in was Charlie Manuel, and he shook his head. But I kept with it. The guys encouraged me, and, I guess, my favorite place to wear it would be probably the shower."
Bumgarner takes the reins for Game 4: The Giants announced 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner will start Game 4 of the National League Division Series. The team toyed with the idea of bringing back Tim Lincecum on short rest, but when they went up 2-1 in the series, there was no need to rush back their ace. For his part, Bumgarner is ready.
"I was planning on starting until I was told I wasn't," Bumgarner told the San Jose Mercury News. "I didn't want to jump back and forth."
Hughes leaves no doubts after performance: Phil Hughes pitched one of his best games of the year against Minnesota in Game 3 of the ALDS on Saturday night. He pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only four hits and one walk while striking out six. Hughes became the first Yankees starter since Mike Mussina in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS to pitch seven innings and give up no runs in a postseason game.
"It was kind of a coming out party for him," teammate Alex Rodriguez told the New York Post. "That was a 'Hello America.' To come out in this position on national TV in a huge position for us. He completely shut them down."
Longoria playing through injury: Evan Longoria, who is playing through a quadriceps injury, had two doubles and a two-run homer on Sunday to lead the Rays to a 5-2 win over the Rangers in the ALDS.
"I felt like Kirk Gibson going around the bases," he told the St. Petersburg Times.
Hamels confident in pitching staff: After pitching a shutout in Philadelphia's 2-0 victory over the Reds, Cole Hamels said he believes his team is well-positioned to succeed in the NLCS.
"Having three starters, that definitely helps because the postseason is all about pitching," Hamels told MLB.com. "When you're able to pitch good games, you're going to get wins, and then we now have the experience on our side. That really does help. When you're able to be in these moments and know how to handle yourself, you're able to come in and put the other team away, put the crowd away and play your game."
Diaz riding emotional roller coaster in series: For the first time in his eight-year career, Matt Diaz is in the playoffs.
"I've never experienced that range of emotions on a baseball field," Diaz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after Sunday's loss to the Giants. "Most emotional game I've ever been a part of. The second one, the other day, ended a lot happier than this one. But we battled. That's what we did all year, and that's what we're going to come back and do tomorrow."
Thome looking forward to some dad time: Jim Thome, now 40 years old, hasn't made any final decisions when it comes to the 2011 season.
"I'm going to go home and spend a little time with my family and my kids," Thome told MLB.com. "I've been away from them all summer off and on. Nice to see them every day, take my daughter to school. Be an everyday dad. I'll sit down with my wife and talk about things, see where we're at."
Thames had always hoped for his moment: Originally drafted by the Yankees, Marcus Thames is making up for lost time.
On Saturday, thanks in part to his two-run homer in the fourth inning, the Yankees defeated the Twins, 6-1, to sweep the ALDS.
"It feels good for me because I came up as a Yankee. I was drafted by them when I was 19. I went away for a while, but I've always wanted a chance to come back and play for the Yankees in the playoffs," Thames, called up in 2002 and dealt to Texas the next year, told the New York Post. "I'd been in the Minor Leagues with them watching them win championships. It feels good; eight more wins and it'll feel even better."
Tens are wild for Ishikawa: Giants players were convinced Travis Ishikawa would have a big day on Sunday because it was the 10th day of the 10th month of 2010 and Ishikawa wears uniform No. 10. Ishikawa ended up scoring the tying run in the ninth inning in San Francisco's 3-2 win.
"Everyone kept telling me it was going to be a big day for me," Ishikawa told the San Jose Mercury News. "My brain was running a lot faster than my legs allowed me."
Game 5 another chance for Cliff Lee to shine: A deciding ALDS Game 5 is just the sort of occasion the Rangers had in mind when they traded for Cliff Lee.
"We have ton of confidence in Cliff," teammate Michael Young told MLB.com. "He's been there, done that and won't be fazed by all that."
In six postseason starts, Lee is 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA.
Wagner forced out with injury: Billy Wagner's career may have ended when an injured oblique knocked him out of the NLDS.
Wagner will not be eligible to pitch again until the World Series, should the Braves advance that far. But the injury has not altered Wagner's decision to retire following the conclusion of the 2010 season.
"Honestly, I've had a great career, and I don't need to define my career by having a successful season," Wagner told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We all would like to draw it up as having a World Series and everybody dog pile on us, but that doesn't happen all the time. Maybe it's not going to happen the way I want it to, and that's just life."
Sabathia ready to go on extra rest: By sweeping the Twins, the Yankees made moot the discussion of pitching CC Sabathia on short rest in a potential Game 4.
"I was ready to pitch," Sabathia told MLB.com.
Though there has been no official announcement, however, it is likely Sabathia will take the mound on Friday in Game 1 of the ALCS.
Choo's on-base percentage shines: Shin-Soo Choo finished the 2010 season with a .300 batting average and a .401 on-base percentage, making him the first Indians outfielder to finish with an OBP of .400 or higher since Manny Ramirez did so in 2000.
"Not many players do that," Choo told MLB.com. "A .300 batting average is special, but still, a lot of players do it. Not many have a .400 on-base percentage."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.