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Rays Rally and Red Sox Crumble to Complete Crushing September Collapse

David Ortiz in dugout during rain delay as Rays roar back (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Blame it on the rain. On a night that started out looking like everything could be forgotten. The Red Sox would make the playoffs and the collapse would be nothing but an after thought. The Rays were down 7-0 to the Yankees and the Red Sox were up on the Orioles.

Unfortunately, the baseball gods had already made their minds up. The 2011 Red Sox had no business in the playoffs. The skies in Baltimore opened up and the Red Sox went to a rain delay. Then the tides of fate turned.

The Sox were one out away from a win. the Rays were one out away from a loss.  A lot can happen before that third out and now we know all too well what can happen.

Game Recaps (Red Sox vs. Orioles & Yankees vs. Rays)

Red Sox Take Early Lead

The trouble started for Baltimore in the top of the third inning when Orioles starter Alfredo Simon surrendered a leadoff walk to the Sox number nine hitter Mike Aviles. MVP candidate, Jacoby Ellsbury then slapped a fastball to left field that not only extended his hit streak to 13 games but set the table for one of the stars of the night, Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia wasted no time taking the first pitch he saw straight to center to score Aviles and give Boston an early 1-0 lead.

Rays Fall Behind 5-0

After the Sox captured the lead and the Yankees, who were already up 1-0 on the Rays, added to their lead thanks to a grand slam off the bat of Mark Teixeira.

Red Sox & Orioles Exchange Blows

Everything seemed to be setting up to go just as Red Sox nation was hoping when JJ Hardy took Lester deep to left for a home run to put Baltimore up by a score of 2-1 in the bottom half of the inning.

Like a good heavyweight bout the Red Sox took the punch and then fired a right hook right back in their next trip to the plate in the fourth. Marco Scutaro doubled and worked his way to third. There he stood when Aviles stepped into the box. Scutaro took an extended lead and with a few shuffle steps towards home he forced a balk from Simon. He was awarded home to tie the game at two.

The next inning, the tiniest of Red Sox proved again that he does big things on big stages. Dustin Pedroia hit a solo shot to left off Simon and the Sox were back in the lead 3-2.

Yankees Push Rays Deeper Into Hole

In an eerie coincidence, Mark Teixeira sent a ball screaming over the fence again in Tampa to put the Rays down 6-0 at nearly the same time as Pedroia’s dinger. Suddenly thoughts of a subpar September started to drift away because things were just going Boston’s way.

Scutaro Flashing Leather

In the bottom half of the fifth inning Mark Reynolds stepped in and hit a hard line drive single off the wall in right for a double. After advancing to third, Reynolds was sent on contact with one down in the inning and Marco Scutaro took center stage once again.

The Sox infield was playing in and Scutaro plucked the grounder off nearly the lip of the grass and fired it home to Lavarnway who applied the tag to save the tying run from scoring.

Threat averted.

Worrisome Red Sox fans began to tremble again when Lester walked the first two batters he faced in the sixth. (Insert Scutaro heroics here). Scutaro ranging to his right stabbed a grounder off the dirt and tossed it straight out of the glove to Pedroia at second. Petey snagged the feed and turned and fired a strike to first to complete the double play. Lester then eventually struck out Jones swinging to escape another potential crisis in the sixth.

The Rays were down 7-0 and the Red Sox were avoiding any and all danger up 3-2.

Then the rain came.

Rays Rally

With the Red Sox sitting in the clubhouse with a storm overhead, a storm started rolling over the Yankees.

The Rays were rocking a revolving door of New York relievers capped off by an Evan Longoria three run jack to left in the eighth. Suddenly Tampa Bay was back in the fight against the Yankees and in the wild card hunt. It was now 7-6 heading into the ninth.

The Yankees got two quick and easy outs in the ninth inning when Dan Johnson came out of the dugout to pinch hit. What are the odds? The Sox had to be in the clear. The Rays were going to lose right here, right now. Right?

Wrong!

Johnson hit a laser that just cleared the fence in right to tie the game at seven in the ninth. 

Red Sox Blow It

When the Red Sox returned to the diamond, Aceves was on the hill and hit two of the first three batters he faced. He’d settle down and survive the inning, but the Sox couldn’t survive the game.

Jonathan Papelbon would come on in the ninth to close the door, except instead he opened it. He got two outs and with two strikes he surrendered an RBI ground rule double to Nolan Reimold and the game was tied.

In no time Robert Andino singled to left in front of a sliding Carl Crawford. Crawford in a microcosm of his entire season, just couldn’t make the play and Reimold scored to steal game 162 from the Red Sox.

Rays Take Wild Card

Just as eerie as when Pedroia and Teixeira homered almost simultaneously, the Rays wasted no time after the Sox lost to run away with the Wild Card. 

Evan Longoria hit his second home run to left in the bottom of the 12th inning and just like that the 2011 season for the Red Sox came to an abrupt close.

There’s Always Next Year

In one night the Rays and Red Sox summed up the entire month of September with these two games. The Rays did everything right and the Red Sox did everything wrong. For anyone who doesn’t remember pre-2004, this is how every year felt.

Heartbroken.

Now Red Sox fans have to turn to the age old saying they lived by for 86 years. “There’s always next year.”

Follow Brian Moller on Twitter: @Brian_Moller

About Brian Moller - @Brian_Moller

Hi I'm Brian Moller and I am addicted to sports. I love everything that involves my Boston sports teams. I'm pursuing a career in sports journalism. I've been lucky enough to have done internships at Comcast SportsNet New England and WHDH 7 News in the sports department. During those internships I've been in the locker room and on the field talking to some of Boston's biggest stars. I also host my own ridiculous sports talk show on my town's local access channel called Sports Ch@t. Hope you enjoy my writing and hopefully I'll be coming through your TV someday.

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Discussion

3 comments for “Rays Rally and Red Sox Crumble to Complete Crushing September Collapse”

  1. I find it very strange that everyone is talking about how the Rays rallied against the Yankees. The starts were almost all pulled and the Rays were pitted against pretty much the Yankees triple A team. The Rays should have never been allowed to get back into the game and I find it a complete disgrace on the Yankees organization for playing it out the way they did last night. I am at no point blaming this for the collapse of the Sox. Just saying that when the season is on the line for one team you do not lay back and let them get back into it no matter who they are. The game didn’t matter to the O’s and they played hard until the end. The Yankee’s should have played hard until the end also. What I witnessed last night was a disgrace by both the Red Sox and the Yankees

    Posted by Kevin Buck | September 29, 2011, 4:32 pm
  2. I am not a fan of the Rays, the Yankees, or the Red Sox, and I do not agree with Kevin Buck’s claim that the Yankees laid down. They made the playoffs…they were resting their starters for a game that is to be played tomorrow. When they got benched they were ahead. Tampa MADE A REMARKABLE recovery they were only a strike away of not making the playoffs. Face IT the RED SOXS BOMBED and they only have to look in the mirror to see why they BOMBED. Any RED SOX fan that THINKS the Yankees tanked probably was too busy watching their team fall apart and were not watching the Rays and the Yankees. As a BASEBALL fan I saw a Yankee team that was TRYING to win the game.

    Posted by Mark | September 29, 2011, 5:03 pm
  3. First of all the fact of the matter is the Rays DID rally. They were down 7-0 in the eighth inning and came back to win. If a high school team was playing them then it’d be a rally. That’s what a rally is.

    Secondly, the game DID matter to the O’s do you not remember Buck’s comments about the Red Sox? Do you not think since they had nothing to play for THIS was their playoff game. They had a chance to ruin it for the moneybag Red Sox. The game mattered to them.

    It didn’t matter one bit to the Yankees and if the Red Sox were in that same position Boston would slaughter Terry Francona if he even thought of keeping all the starters in through the whole game when they were up 7-0 in the eighth.

    The Red Sox choked. Period and the Rays were the beneficiary. They won. The Sox lost. That’s the all of it. When you lose 20 games in a month this is what happens. The Yankees don’t get any blame in this. The Rays deserve credit for never quitting on their season and the Red Sox deserve the criticism for doing the opposite.

    Posted by Brian Moller | September 29, 2011, 5:32 pm

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