NEW YORK -- This was not the autumn Andrew Bailey envisioned when he was traded last winter. He was the one who was supposed to be going to the postseason, not the team that traded him, the Oakland Athletics.
But here it is autumn, and while the Athletics have emerged as baseball’s biggest October surprise, the Boston Red Sox have imploded, Bailey not excepted. His latest meltdown may be the one that stings the most this winter: The 3-1 lead he was called upon to protect in the ninth inning Tuesday night lasted two batters, as he gave up a single to Curtis Granderson and a game-tying home run to pinch hitter Raul Ibanez, who won the game in the 12th with a single off Andrew Miller.
A season that began with a freak thumb injury is coming to an inglorious finish for Bailey, the All-Star closer who was supposed to replace the departing All-Star closer (Jonathan Papelbon) but instead has earned the designation of being the sour side of what has proven to be a great trade for Oakland.
The tally at the moment:
• Josh Reddick: 32 home runs, 84 RBIs
• Andrew Bailey: 6 saves, 7.04 ERA
(The other key component in that trade for the Red Sox, Ryan Sweeney, broke his hand punching a door, tipping the scales even further in Oakland’s favor.)
Push the reset button and hunker down for 2013?
"There’s no reset button for me," Bailey said. "My numbers speak for themselves. Unfortunately we have a long offseason. This game is what is going to keep me pushing forward to next year.
"I know the team that we’re going to have on the field next year, these guys aren’t just going out there giving games away. Everyone fought today; I went out there and blew it. It doesn’t feel good. These last two weeks are definitely going to keep me motivated to do more than I ever have."
It was less than two weeks ago that Bailey came in with a 4-1 lead against the Tampa Bay Rays in the Trop and gave up four singles and a walk before he was lifted, all five runners scoring in a 7-4 loss that ended on B.J. Upton’s walk-off home run off Vicente Padilla.
On Tuesday night, Bailey barely averted being saddled with another defeat, Mark Melancon improbably rescuing him from a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the ninth.
"[Jon] Lester threw a great ballgame," Bailey said. "The bullpen came in and did their job. I didn’t. That’s it. I let the team down. Two-run lead, I’ve got to get the first guy [Granderson] out. I made a bad pitch to Ibanez on a 1-and-2 count, left the ball in the middle.
"There’s nothing fun about going out there, guys just running around the bases. Unfortunately I’ll have a long offseason to think about that. You've got guys like [Dustin] Pedroia going out there and playing with broken fingers, whatever he has, getting a big double. Jonny throwing a hell of a ballgame, the bullpen coming in and doing their job, and I didn’t. So I’ve got to get back to just getting people out."