In MLB, history again awaits

Updated: September 28, 2011, 9:51 AM ET
By Buster Olney

Somebody will etch their name into history today, just as Bobby Thomson and Aaron Boone did, or perhaps in the way that Fred Merkle did. About 2,400 games have been played this season and yet, for today, the late comebacks and the blown leads in a long summer don't matter and for the Cardinals and Braves and Red Sox and Rays. Today means everything. Some players will wake up this morning not knowing that the legacy of their lifetimes devoted to baseball will be shaped by midnight.

Maybe it'll be Chris Carpenter, who is seemingly the perfect pitcher to take the mound tonight for the Cardinals, having posted a 1.45 ERA over his past four starts. Perhaps it'll be Tim Hudson, who needs to throw well but may also need to kick in a good swing or two along the way, because Atlanta ranks 28th of 30 teams in runs scored.

Or perhaps it could be Ryan Lavarnway, who stepped into the Boston lineup on Tuesday in place of the injured Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia clubbed the first and second home runs of his career. More impressively, Lavarnway handled the Red Sox pitchers carefully, walking to the mound every time he had a question about what the pitcher wanted to throw. By the end of the night, after Jonathan Papelbon battled through 10-pitch and 11-pitch at-bats in the ninth inning, Lavarnway had done a half-marathon between the plate and the mound.