Last night will go down as one of the most riveting nights in the history of Major League Baseball’s regular season. Two wild card races came down to the last game, with the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves trying to avoid disaster.
For a while, things were looking pretty good for the Red Sox. The Rays were down 7-0 to the Yankees, and the Sox were clinging to a one-run lead in the 7th against the Orioles. And then the rains came. We’re always prone to look for meaning in random events, but when a team is staring down the worst September collapse in baseball history, a dreary rain delay seemed like a really bad sign.
By the time the night was over, Red Sox relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon had given up the lead, and the Rays completed an incredible comeback to beat the Yankees in extra innings.
They’ll be talking about this one for a while. Here’s Scott Lauber from The Boston Herald:
It has been a slow, month-long march to baseball’s version of death — elimination from playoff contention — for the Red Sox.
Last night, it became pure torture.
One out from guaranteeing the Red Sox no less than a play-in game today against the Tampa Bay Rays, closer Jonathan Papelbon melted down. He allowed three consecutive hits, including a game-tying double by Nolan Reimold and a game-winning single by Robert Andino in a 4-3 loss.
Then, a few minutes after Papelbon and the Red Sox trudged off the field at Camden Yards, Evan Longoria belted a solo homer in the 12th inning at Tropicana Field. After trailing the New York Yankees 7-0 in the eighth, the Rays won 8-7.
And, with that, the Best Team Ever suffered the Worst Collapse Ever.
Lauber points out that no team has ever missed the playoffs with a lead as large as 9 games in September. The Braves managed to come close to the Boston choke job by blowing an 8 and 1/2 game lead in the National League.
Papelbon has always been a loudmouth, so watching him blow it was pretty entertaining. His post-game news conference is equally satisfying.