BOSTON (CBS) – There will be no October baseball in Boston. The Red Sox completed the biggest September collapse in baseball history, and are now spectators the rest of the way.
“We’re not very happy right now. We’re going to have to live with that one,” said manager Terry Francona after their 4-3, season-ending loss to the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday night.
“I can’t even explain to you guys right now,” said DH David Ortiz. “It’s just… It’s just disappointing.”
Just minutes after Jonathan Papelbon blew only his third save of the season, and suffered his first loss, Evan Longoria sent the Tampa Bay Rays into the playoffs with a walk-off solo home run against the Yankees.
While the Rays were heading to Texas to take on the Rangers in the ALDS, the Red Sox went home to Boston.
“I’m surprised. I think everyone in this clubhouse expected to be in the playoffs,” said Papelbon. “We fell short of our goal this year.”
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“I don’t know how to evaluate it. Every time you lose, it hurts,” said Francona. “Every time you go home before you’re ready, it hurts. As tough as it’s been this last month, we weren’t ready to go home. You want to go home when you dictate, not when somebody makes you. It’s extremely disappointing.”
“This is one of the most disappointing times for me,” said left fielder Carl Crawford. “We had high expectations and to fall short the way we did is definitely disappointing for us.”
In his first year with the Red Sox, Crawford did not live up to the expectations that go with the seven-year, $142 million contract he signed over the winter. He finished with a .255 batting average with 11 home runs and 56 RBI.
The season ended when Crawford couldn’t snag a sinking liner off the bat of Orioles second baseman Robert Andino, scoring Nolan Reimold from second.
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Papelbon watched as the ball left the bat, hoping his left fielder could make the play and send the game into extra innings.
“You get in that situation you hope that things go your way. It’s a game of inches man,” said Papelbon. “Things didn’t go our way tonight; that’s why you play 162 games a year.”
Blowing a late lead in the final game of the season is very symbolic to the entire season for the Red Sox. With an “uber-team” on paper and visions of 100-wins, they got off to a horrific 0-6 and 2-10 start. Boston turned things around and were the best team in baseball from May to August, and entered September with a 1 ½ lead over the Yankees for the AL East. As a fall-back a 9 ½ game lead over the Rays for the Wild Card.
But the Sox finished the month of September an abysmal 7-19. They did not win a single series, and did not win back-to-back games the final five weeks of the season.
It was a disappointing end that will stick with the 2011 Red Sox squad for a long time.
“I’ve been in bad situations before,” said Ortiz, who will become a free agent after the World Series. “When things like this happen at this point in the season after you bust your tail and play well through the year and drop down like we did this month, it just stays in your head for a long time. Trust me.”