On one of the most stunning nights in baseball history, the Red Sox were eliminated from postseason play after the Orioles rallied for two runs in the ninth and, moments later, Evan Longoria homered in the bottom of the 12th to give the Rays a dramatic victory over the Yankees.
Boston's 4-3 loss to Baltimore, coupled with Tampa Bay's 8-7 victory over New York, gave the wild card to the Rays and sent the Red Sox home for the second straight playoff season.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon, who had the Orioles down to their last strike, allowed two runs in the bottom of the ninth to take the loss. Carl Crawford nearly caught the liner off the bat of Baltimore's Robert Andino that instead turned into the game-winning hit (Curse of the Andino?).
The Rays were down 7-0 before scoring six times in the eighth and ninth innings to tie the game, most of their comeback coming while the Red Sox were enduring a nearly hour-and-a-half rain delay in Baltimore (and watching the Rays on TV in the clubhouse). Tampa Bay's tying run was scored on a two-strike, two-out Dan Johnson homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Will Papelbon be back? Will David Ortiz, another free agent? Will Terry Francona after overseeing the biggest September collapse in baseball history (nine games ... nine games). The answers will come sooner than New England had hoped.
The long, cold winter has begun. ...