September has not been kind to the Boston Red Sox, and on Monday night their unprecedented collapse came to a head. The Baltimore Orioles beat the Red Sox 6-3 at Camden Yards, and with the Tampa Bay Rays besting the New York Yankees 5-2, the Red Sox fell into a tie for the Wild Card lead, eliminating the nine game cushion they had just 24 days ago.
The loss drops Boston's September record to an anemic 5-17 and put their playoff life into serious question less than a month after it seemed like they were a postseason lock. If the Red Sox can win their final two games, both against Baltimore, the worst that can happen is that they are forced into a one-game playoff with Tampa Bay to decide who wins the Wild Card. Although wins have been hard to come by as of late, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is about as optimistic as can be expected.
"We win every game, we're in the playoffs," he told the Associated Press. "It's definitely in our hands."
Perhaps most baffling about Boston's slide is the seeming absence of any reliable pitching. On Monday, Josh Beckett took the loss after giving up six runs in seven innings. Throughout the month of September he has an ERA of 5.48, which is seemingly unthinkable given his stretch of impressive performance earlier in the year.
"We've got to win games, and we're not going to do it when your starting pitcher gives up six runs," Beckett told the AP.
No team has ever blown a September lead of nine games. The collapse reminds baseball fans of the 2007 New York Mets, who held a seven game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies on September 12, but dropped 12 of their last 17 games to lose the division and miss out on the playoffs.