BALTIMORE (AP) — Jon Lester stood in front of a pack of reporters and cameramen, wearing a sharp suit with nowhere to go but home.

Someone asked the Boston Red Sox pitcher what he will remember most about this season, and without hesitation he whispered a one-word answer.


The Red Sox completed their late-season collapse in horrific and historic fashion Wednesday night, falling out of the playoff chase by allowing two ninth-inning runs in a 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Boston held a nine-game lead in the AL wild-card race after Sept. 3, but a 7-19 September swoon left them tied with Tampa Bay entering the final day of the regular season.

Only minutes after this game ended, the Rays completed their comeback from a 7-0 deficit with an 8-7 win over the New York Yankees in 12 innings.

Boston became the first team to miss the postseason after leading by as many as nine games for a playoff spot entering September, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“We’ll go down in history as one of the worst collapses in history, so it definitely doesn’t feel good to be part of that,” left fielder Carl Crawford said. “We had high expectations, and to fall short the way we did is definitely disappointing for us.”

Boston’s 7-20 record for the month is its worst September since an identical mark in 1952.

“It’s just shocking. We should be playing a one-game playoff right now,” Lester said. “It’s just one of those things. It wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t our year.”

Even if Tampa Bay lost, the Red Sox faced the prospect of a quick turnaround following a long night at Camden Yards that included a rain delay of 1 hour, 26 minutes in the middle of the seventh inning.

When the rain came, Tampa Bay trailed 7-0. By the time play resumed, the Rays and Yankees were tied at 7 heading into the 10th inning.

The Orioles won it in the ninth against Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon (4-1), who struck out the first two batters before giving up a double to Chris Davis. Nolan Reimold followed with a double to score pinch-runner Kyle Hudson, and Robert Andino completed the comeback with a single to left that a sliding Crawford couldn’t glove.

“I was just overthrowing the ball, not really focusing on location,” Papelbon said. “I felt great. I felt great all year.”

It was only his third blown save of the season and only defeat.

“I don’t think is going to define me as a player. I don’t think this is going to define this ballclub this year,” Papelbon said, his voice breaking. “I don’t know about everyone else in this clubhouse, but whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Jim Johnson (6-5) worked the ninth for Baltimore.

“To walk off, everybody wants to walk off,” Andino said. “It’s priceless man, you don’t have any words for it. Just enjoy it, and there’s no tomorrow, so next year.”

The same can be said for Boston.

Dustin Pedroia homered for the Red Sox, who went through the entire month of September without winning consecutive games.

“I’m devastated. I’m heartbroken,” Pedroia said. “To play hard for 161 games like we have and have it end like this. … It should not have gone down to the last game of the season to decide if we were going to the postseason.”

Pitching on three days’ rest, Lester limited the last-place Orioles to two runs and four hits over six gritty innings. But it wasn’t enough to prevent the Red Sox from absorbing one final blow.

“We’re not very happy right now,” manager Terry Francona said. “We needed to take care of business and we didn’t.”

Boston had several chances to pad a 3-2 lead it took in the fifth inning but was never able to complete the task.

After Pedroia hit a solo homer off Alfredo Simon in the fifth, the Orioles got the potential tying run to third base in the bottom half and in the sixth before Lester worked out of trouble.

In the seventh, Boston’s David Ortiz was thrown out trying to stretch a single, and with two outs rookie catcher Ryan Lavanway bounced into a fielder’s choice. Lavanway, who homered twice in an 8-7 win Tuesday, went 0 for 5 and stranded nine runners.

The Red Sox blew another chance to increase the lead in the eighth when Marco Scutaro took off from first base on a double by Crawford.

But Scutaro stutter-stepped before getting to third and was out at the plate.

In the ninth, Lavanway grounded into a double play with one out and the bases loaded. It was the third time he came to the plate following an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez.

About 10 minutes later, Boston’s season was done.

“I can guarantee you that everyone in this room will learn from this,” Ortiz said. “Trust me, a lot of guys in here will be thinking about what happened for a long time.”

The Red Sox went up 1-0 in the third when Mike Aviles walked, took second on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and scored on a single by Pedroia. Ellsbury’s single extended his hitting streak against Baltimore to 36 games, dating to April 2009.

J.J. Hardy hit a two-run homer in the bottom half, only minutes after the scoreboard showed the Yankees increasing their lead over Tampa Bay to 5-0. Hardy’s 30th homer followed a leadoff walk to Davis.

Boston pulled even in the fourth when Scutaro doubled, advanced on a groundout and scored on a balk.

NOTES: Hardy’s homer gave Baltimore two players with 30 (Mark Reynolds 37) for the first time since 1996, when Brady Anderson had 50 and Rafael Palmeiro hit 39. … Lester’s performance lowered the ERA of Boston’s starters this month to 7.08.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (33)
  1. gramps says:


    The end of ‘Ref Sox Nation’….

    “Can America be far behind”?


    1. macmum says:

      Gramps, Red Sox Nation is disappointed, but still intact. After 86 years of waiting, this is a disappointment, but just a “blip on the radar”. IMHO Theo is the one that needs to go…he’s the dummy that signed up all the untalented pitchers (ie. Slackey) that killed this season.. As for America ~ it’s too bad that it isnt’ that simple ~ there are too many “Theos” out there casting their votes. :-(

      1. gramps says:

        Morning ‘mum’,

        You comment reminds me of Mrs. gramps…

        Only she would have said ” ‘illegal Theos’ sucking the nation dry”


    2. macmum says:

      Hey Gramps…so glad to “hear from you again”. Hope all is well. Not so much with the Sox…but there’s always next year…for now, I’ll side with a team that I hope will blot out the evil empire. :-)

      1. gramps says:

        Evening ‘mum’,

        I’ll be buying Mrs Gramps one of those ‘commerative bricks’ that the Sox will be placing in Fenway….I lost her in June after a 7 year battle…She’d watch them even if they were down 10 runs in the 9th!

        She like you, a true citizen of Red Sox Nation.

        gramps ‘

    3. macmum says:

      Hey Gramps – I’m so bummed to hear about the Mrs. I was lucky that Mr.Mac made it through his heart attack(s) last year. I’m honored to be considered on the same level as your fav girl. :-) As for the Sox…seems Tito is taking it on the chin~ not that he’s innocent in all this, but sadly, the only team effort they all made this yeaer is to not function as a team. But like the Mrs. I still will never shut a game off in spite of the score or the standings, cause you never know when they’ll turn things around. That’s what makes Red Sox Nation strong, loyal and great! :-) Have a grood weekend my firend!

      1. gramps says:

        Evening ‘mum’,

        Both Tito & Theo will land on their feet in Chicago…..Theo with the Cubs & Tito with the White Sox….

        They’ll be in different leagues & probably meet for a steak every so often on the sly. Talk shop & swap scouting reports on the needs of the other….A marriage made in Base Ball Heaven!


    4. macmum says:

      I saw your comment about JH….had to laugh, my thought exactly! Pay back is a …welll, you know. I hope Terry is happy wherever he goes. At the end of the day, he bought our team up to snuff and then got handed a mishmash of hasbeens to manage. Why is anyone suprised at the outcome??

  2. donny says:

    Embarrassing collapse by our Sox after a season of so much promise. looks like an expensive payroll of under performers.

    …and the Yankees will regret their loss tonight, too…

    They’d have had an easier time with the Sox.

  3. chilitokid says:

    Red Sox fans are still singing Sweet Caroline in Fenway tonight!!

  4. chilitokid says:

    And JD Drew isn’t going anywhere!!! He’s just changing color and playing left field!!

  5. noz says:

    20 fast balls in a row in the 9th? afraid to throw the splitter or a slider?- Papelbon & the manager who authorized it ?, you ain’t throwin 97 anymore.

    You got what you deserved. BAD COACHING!!!!

    Interesting that NY did not insert Rivera with a 7-6 lead in the 9th, Sean M. a Turncoat (his father must be tuning over in his grave) on the ESPN telecast sluffed it off-“He was not available” Oh Really!!!

    Being the manager does not mean being buddies with the players-IT was TIME TO COACH in September & he his staff failed!!!- I HOPE HE GETS FIRED

  6. Rays Fan says:

    It looks as if the magic fairy dust that has carried the Red Sox the last few seasons has finally worn off. Back to their old selves.Who they really were for so many decades. The bambino is back!!!

    1. FireGuyFrank says:

      Not so fast on the Bambino talk. This “collapse” started in April with a 2-13 start. Just ONE more win in those fifteen games and things are different this morning.

      That said, I think the Rays must believe they are the team of destiny. The Yankees did themselves no favors coughing up the game.

      And let’s not forget the similar drama in the National League this September.

  7. thom0926 says:

    What a great game. Go Yankees!

    1. Yankeesarecheaters says:

      where was Rivera in the 9th? cheating creates bad Kharma. GO TEXAS OR THE RAYS!!!

      1. cstars says:

        please. all of a sudden you expect the yankees to solve your problems? maybe the shouldnt have 6-20 or whatever it was in september. the red sox suck! live with it.

  8. AJ says:

    One of the best outcomes in baseball is when the Boston Red Sux to go down in flames like they did tonight. Would like to see a poll to find out how this ranks with the Bucky Dent home run and “little roller, up along first, behind the bag, get’s through Buckner, here comes Knight, the Mets win it!”

  9. sportsfanatic says:

    The problem with the sox is that they have to get back to basics. First, get rid of Bill James and his crazy calculations. This is baseball and you don’t have to be a mathematician or scientist to put a great team on the field. The sox throw $ around like drunken sailors. Money is a scarce resource. They signed lackey and crawford who were rated as good players when they were free agents but they gave them superstar $. If yur going to play big $ for a player then go after the superstar. Its very hard to get excited about this team going forward when you pay crawford 150 mill and he is taking manny’s place out there. Crawford was a #9 hitter on this team and thats as depressing as it gets when you pay him 150mill and have no confidence in him at the plate..

  10. Jaye Bird says:

    Typical Red Sox….get our hopes up and let us down in the end!! They SUCK!

  11. Chris Ross says:

    What an unbelievable collapse from the Red Sox. I can say honestly that throughout this whole thing I never thought that the Red Sox would actually do it. I thought it would be great if it could happen but just couldn’t believe that it ever would. What a day for baseball. A year with no races turned into a year with unbelievable races on both sides. Jonthan Papelbon with a blown save and Evan Longoria with a walk-off homer. Two major players in each franchise playing huge roles in the end result. It don’t get much better than that. This is what Major League Baseball is all about!

  12. aza-aza says:

    test this project –

  13. Alan says:

    BOO HOO, BOO HOO that’s right blame the Yankees, you CHOKED face it!!!
    You know damn well the Sox would have done exactly the same thing.

  14. Baseballsboring says:

    Here we go Bruins! Here we Go!

  15. Paul says:

    The real sad part is the 200 Million dollar payroll doesn’t buy a ring. I hope that Tampa takes it all….and they will do it with a couple of has beens and half the payroll

  16. Naomi says:

    Boo hoo Go Yankees!

  17. Tim says:

    I agree the yankees did themselves no favor by letting red hot Tampa in ahead of the Sox and their horrendous pitching staff. The Sox averaged almost 5 runs a game in September, should be good for more than 7-20.

    Total lack of class and respect for the game by not putting Rivera in the game. Karma is a bi*tch – maybe they are still angry about blowing a 3-0 lead. Or was it payback for Pedro slamming fat old Zimmer to the ground?

  18. denmom says:

    With so many overpaid primadonnas (who each thinks it’s all about him( how can there be teamwork? Francona;s got to work with what he’s handed – I don’t blame him if he wants to walk.

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