By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) —  The one thing the Red Sox couldn’t really afford during their weekend series against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park was a sweep. So of course, the Red Sox went out and got swept.

The culmination of the three-game sweep came in frustrating fashion Sunday night with a see-saw loss, one that saw the Red Sox drop the ball on a few occasions and, ultimately, drop in the standings. The two-game lead that Boston owned over New York before the first pitch on Friday is now gone, flipped into a one-game deficit in the Wild Card race. If the postseason started today, the Red Sox would be visiting Yankee Stadium for the AL Wild Card game.

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The Red Sox gave the Yankees some new life by dropping the series, which was a crushing theme in Sunday night’s loss. With a 3-2 lead in the top of the eight, Adam Ottavino came in to face Aaron Judge with runners on second and third and no outs. It looked like the reliever had retired Judge on a few occasions, but the Sox dropped the ball — quite literally.

First it was first baseman Bobby Dalbec, who let a foul pop up drop in front of the Boston dugout. Judge stayed alive again when he fouled one into Christian Vazquez’s glove for what should have been the end of the at-bat, but the backstop dropped the ball on the transfer. Joe West said it was a foul tip, the Red Sox could not review the play, and Judge once again had new life.

“I dropped it on the transfer,” Vazquez said after Sunday’s loss. “That’s the first time that happened to me. I didn’t know how to react. It was in the top of the glove and I was looking at the ball in the middle of the glove so I dropped it finding the ball.”

Fittingly, Judge roped a two-run double on the very next pitch, giving New York a 4-3 lead. Giancarlo Stanton followed with an absolute moonshot of a homer, his third of the series, to put the Yankees on top 6-3.

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Boston stranded a pair of runners in the bottom of the eighth, and Kyle Schwarber struck out with a runner on to end things in the bottom of the ninth. It was not a pleasant weekend for the Red Sox, who scored just nine runs during the series. Stanton drove in 10 runs on his own for New York over the sweep.

“We got swept by the Yankees and we’re in the second Wild Card. We played some competitive games, but we didn’t get the job done so very simple,” Boston skipper Alex Cora said after Sunday’s loss. “It’s not what we wanted coming into this series; we wanted to win the series and keep that first Wild Card but it didn’t happen. But we’re still in a position to make the playoffs. So that’s not the worst-case scenario.”

The Red Sox are still in a favorable position despite losing a golden opportunity over the weekend. While the Yankees have to deal with the Toronto Blue Jays (who are a game back of Boston in the Wild Card race) and the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays to close the season, Boston gets to visit the 106-loss Orioles and 64-92 Washington Nationals.

With the Yankees and Blue Jays duking it out for three nights starting on Tuesday, the Red Sox should be able to gain some ground — assuming they can beat the lowly O’s.

“For how big this weekend was, I think Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, they’re probably bigger, because we know that somebody is going to lose in the next three games and you can gain ground,” said Cora. “So you’ve just got to make sure you’re locked in Tuesday and start playing good baseball. It’s not that we played bad baseball over the weekend. We just got beat.”

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Getting beat is no longer an option for the Red Sox. They had a chance to separate themselves atop the Wild Card race but fell flat on their faces. They are lucky enough to have an easy schedule to serve as a safety net over the final week.

CBSBoston.com Staff