The Boston Red Sox completed a record collapse in a Major League Baseball playoff race on Monday, allowing the Tampa Bay Rays to match them in a fight for an American League wild-card spot.
The Red Sox lost 6-3 in Baltimore, while the Rays defeating the visiting New York Yankees 5-2, leaving both clubs at 89-71 with two games remaining against their same foes to conclude the six-month season.
Boston owned a nine-game edge over Tampa Bay on the morning of Sept. 4 and carried a one-game lead into Monday, before they finished squandering the biggest blown lead in September by any team battling to make the playoffs.
Detroit, Texas and the Yankees have already clinched American League playoff berths by securing division titles, with the second-placed team with the most wins also able to book a wild-card berth.
The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when a fielding error by Baltimore’s Matt Angle allowed Marco Scutaro to score, but the Orioles equalized on a solo homer by Matt Wieters in their half of the same inning.
Boston took a 2-1 lead on Jed Lowrie’s solo homer in the fourth, but Baltimore pulled even on a run-scoring single in the fifth by Chris Davis.
Baltimore seized command in the sixth inning, taking the lead on a Davis double that scored Vladimir Guerrero ahead of Robert Andino’s inside-the-park home run, a three-run blast to center field that gave the Orioles a 6-2 edge.
Guerrero become the all-time major league hits leader among Dominican players with a single to start the scoring rampage.
Dustin Pedroia singled in a run for the Red Sox in the ninth inning and David Ortiz followed with a single, but Adrian Gonzalez flew out to left field and Lowrie struck out to send the Red Sox to their 17th loss in 22 games.
Tampa Bay improved to 15-8 since Sept. 2 as pitcher James Shields scattered six hits over 8-2/3 innings for the Rays to collect the victory.
The Yankees took a 2-0 lead on Robinson Cano’s solo homer in the first inning and a Cano single in the third that brought in Brett Gardner, but in Tampa Bay’s third inning at the plate, B.J. Upton doubled to score Desmond Jennings and Reid Brignac, and then scored on a Johnny Damon single to put the Rays ahead 3-2.
Kelly Shoppach’s solo homer in the fourth gave Tampa Bay a 4-2 edge and Upton scored the final run in the seventh on a Damon sacrifice fly.
Monday’s other results:
‧ Tigers 14, Indians 0
‧ White Sox 4, Blue Jays 3
‧ Rangers 4, Angels 3
‧ Royals 7, Twins 3
‧ Mariners 4, Athletics 2
AFP, ATLANTA, GEORGIA
The Atlanta Braves remained one game ahead of the St Louis Cardinals in the fight for the final National League playoff berth after each club lost on Monday.
Raul Ibanez singled in the deciding runs in the sixth and eighth innings to give Philadelphia a 4-2 victory over Atlanta, who fell to 89-71, while the Cardinals, 88-72, dropped a 5-4 decision at Houston in 10 innings.
Philadelphia, Arizona and Milwaukee have secured National League playoff positions by clinching division titles. The other berth goes to the best second-placed team, either Atlanta or St Louis. Each has two more games against their Monday foes.
If the Cardinals and Braves finish the season with the same record, St Louis would host a one-game playoff for the post-season berth tomorrow because the Cardinals have a 5-1 record against the Braves.