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The Red Sox complete epic collapse and suffer from cosmic farce

Wasn’t this sort of thing supposed to be a part of the Red Sox past? Bill Buckner’s booted ground ball? A “Curse of the Bambino” and World Series futility for over 86 years?

By Staff writer / September 29, 2011

Boston Red Sox third baseman Mike Aviles sits in the dugout after Boston's 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Baltimore. Boston was eliminated from the playoffs after the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees in extra innings minutes after Boston's loss.

Patrick Semansky/AP

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Upon finishing the worst September in Red Sox history, which capped perhaps the worst collapse in baseball history, pitcher Jon Lester only had words of capitulation.

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“It wasn't meant to be."

It was, clearly, a piece of postgame mental self-preservation – a statement that allowed some anonymous cosmic force to assume responsibility for a one month stretch of baseball so shockingly awful that it will become a new sports shorthand for failure bordering on the inconceivable.

And it sounded rather familiar.

The Red Sox give up a nine-game lead to the Tampa Bay Rays in the wildcard race in a single month. The Red Sox, one out away from beating the hapless Orioles to ensure at least a one-game playoff with the Rays for that wildcard slot, lose on a single by the unheralded Robert Andino, a career .245 hitter.

Wasn’t this sort of thing supposed to be a part of the Red Sox past? Bill Buckner’s booted ground ball? A “Curse of the Bambino” and World Series futility for over 86 years?

To be sure, the Rays deserve no small amount of credit, most particularly for Wednesday night, when they came back from a 7-0 deficit to the division-winning New York Yankees in the eighth inning and tied the game with a home run on their last strike.

In that way, Lester was right.

The only reason the Red Sox entered Wednesday with a chance to secure the wildcard and advance to the playoffs was that the commissioner did not have the authority to overrule the principles of mathematics. Before Wednesday’s games began, the Rays and Sox had both won the same number of games, meaning that they both had an equal shot to win the last playoff slot.

By the principles of baseball, however, the Red Sox have been roadkill since September began.

What team worthy of the postseason can go an entire month without winning twice in a row, as the Red Sox did?

What team staking a claim as one of baseball’s best gives up at least six runs in 11 consecutive games, as the Red Sox did before last night?

What team fighting for its playoff life loses five of seven games to the Orioles, who finished at 69-93, 28 games behind the first-place Yankees, having given up 152 more runs than they scored?

No, this was not something of the Red Sox past. This was something unto its own universe.

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