BOSTON – The Tampa Bay Rays clinched the wild card berth – after a major September meltdown by the Boston Red Sox.
After leading by nine games over the in the AL Wild Card race through games of September 2nd, the ended up failing to reach the postseason as the final day of the regular season came to a close. The Red Sox lost 4-3 to the Baltimore OriolesWednesday after leading 3-2 going into the ninth inning.
Jonathan Papelbon blew his second save in his last four chances after converting his previous 25 save opportunities. Also for the second time in the last three games against Boston, Robert Andino had a hit that turned out to be the difference in the game. Andino singled home the winning run Wednesday two days after hitting a three-run inside-the-park home run Monday. Boston had been 76-0 when leading after eight innings this season.
The Red Sox finished the month of September with a 7-20 record and a .259 win percentage. That percentage is the team’s worst in any calendar month since August 1964 when they had a .241 win percentage. The 20 losses is tied for the most in September in franchise history.
Down in St. Petersburg, the Rays defeated the New York Yankees8-7 in 12 innings after trailing 7-0 entering the eighth inning. In doing so Tampa Bay clinched the AL Wild Card berth and will play the Texas Rangers in the Division Series beginning Friday.
With the Rays trailing 7-6 and down to their final strike in the ninth inning, Dan Johnsonhit his second home run of the season to tie the game. Then in the 12th, Evan Longoria became only the second player in major-league history to hit a walk-off home run in his team’s final game of the regular season and thus clinch a postseason berth for his club. That according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The other player to do that, of course, was Bobby Thomson with his “shot heard ’round the world” against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951.
The Rays’ nine-game deficit in September was the largest by any team to make the postseason in MLB history.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tampa Bay is the first team to earn a postseason berth by overcoming a deficit of seven or more runs to win their final game of the regular season. The previous record for the largest deficit overcome to clinch a postseason spot with a win in a team’s last regular-season game was six runs by the Rockies against the Giants in 1995. Colorado overcame an 8–2 San Francisco lead that day to win their season finale 10–9 and clinch a Wild Card position.