As if missing the playoffs for just the second time in eight years was not enough for the Red Sox to elicit a certain degree of frustration in New England, the manner in which they suffered their losses was notable.
They led the majors in extra-inning losses with 12 (against only six wins). Their 22-26 record in one-run games was the worst in the American League East.
Much of that had to do with a bullpen that wasn’t up to snuff, but there were several other setbacks that offered up their own share of anguish. Here are the top 11 losses (we couldn’t quite cut it to 10), ranked according to just how much they hurt.
11. April 19 vs. Tampa Bay, 8-2
Just 13 games into the season, the 4-9 Sox fell six games out of first place with four straight losses at home to the Rays, culminating in this whitewash on Patriots’ Day. John Lackey gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings and half of the park emptied halfway through in favor of the other holiday festivities.
10. May 2 at Baltimore, 3-2 (10 innings)
This one finished off a three-game sweep in Camden Yards that prompted a scolding from general manager Theo Epstein, who said in an interview with the Boston Herald that changes would come if play did not improve.
A Jonathan Papelbon throwing error preceded a walk-off hit by Ty Wigginton, dropping Boston to 11-14.
9. June 23 at Colorado, 8-6
One of Papelbon’s career-high eight blown saves came in dramatic fashion. He wasted a 6-5 lead in an instant by serving up a solo homer to the first man he faced in the bottom of the ninth. A single and a bunt set up Jason Giambi for a walk-off shot, the second straight loss in Coors Field.
8. June 25 at San Francisco, 5-4
There was nothing particularly painful about the way the Sox went down that day, but it was the game in which Dustin Pedroia fouled a ball off his left foot, causing the injury that would sink his season. Victor Martinez and Clay Buchholz would also get hurt in the series.
7. Sept. 26 at New York, 4-3 (10 innings)
The Sox had won the first two games of this late-season series in the Bronx, were within five games of the Yankees in the loss column and had four games remaining with New York. So when they rallied in the top of the ninth off the great Mariano Rivera, turning a one-run deficit into a one-run lead, the dream was very much alive.
But Papelbon blew another save, and a bases-loaded walk by Hideki Okajima in the 10th sunk the Sox and essentially dashed their slim playoff hopes.
6. May 15 at Detroit, 7-6 (12 innings)
Boston had won four of its previous five games and Jon Lester had a 6-1 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning. The Tigers got three in that frame and then tied it off Okajima in the eighth.
Ramon Ramirez, the third Boston pitcher of the 12th inning, walked in the winning run with the bases loaded and two outs.
5. July 25 at Seattle, 4-2
The previous day saw Lester flirt with perfection before dropping a 5-1 decision. The finale of a four-game set in Safeco Field again had Okajima lose a lead in the eighth, but this time in painful fashion.
Okie entered with no outs and a man on first. He proceeded to give up five straight hits, including two on bunts, both of which the lefty managed to misplay.
4. Sept. 5 vs. Chicago, 7-5
A doubleheader sweep at the hands of the White Sox the day before was a crushing blow, but the Sox had built a 5-3 lead in the series finale and again called on Papelbon. A walk, a double and a single tied it, and Papelbon added one more walk before he was relieved following a career-high (as a reliever) 48 pitches.
Three more walks were issued by Boston relievers in the inning as Chicago just sat there tacking on runs against a beleaguered bullpen.
3. Aug. 13 at Texas, 10-9 (11 innings)
Josh Beckett lost most of an 8-2 lead but the Sox still led 9-6 in the seventh before the bullpen blew it once again. A leadoff homer by Nelson Cruz off Tim Wakefield in the 11th ended the Rangers’ comeback.
2. May 17 at New York, 11-9
Another Papelbon meltdown came after Boston had erased an early five-run deficit. Consecutive homers by Kevin Youkilis and Victor Martinez in the eighth gave the Sox a 9-7 advantage, but the Yankees matched their rivals with a pair of shots off Papelbon in the ninth.
Both were two-run homers. Alex Rodriguez tied it with the first and, after Papelbon hit the weak-hitting Francisco Cervelli with a pitch, Marcus Thames won it.
1. Aug. 28 at Tampa Bay, 3-2 (10 innings)
Having pulled to within 4 1/2 games of both the Rays and the Yankees and pitching Clay Buchholz, the Sox were in great shape to make it a true three-team race entering the last full month of the year.
Buchholz took a 1-0 lead into the seventh. His throwing error on a pickoff attempt allowed the Carlos Pena to scamper from first to third with one out. A Matt Joyce foul pop into the Rays’ bullpen was tracked down on the run by J.D. Drew, who probably should’ve let it fall.
By the time he collected himself amid the mounds, balls and everything else that lays around a bullpen, Drew could not throw out Pena, who had tagged and dashed home. A Victor Martinez solo shot in the top of the eighth put Boston back on top, but Buchholz served up one of his own to B.J. Upton in the bottom half before Dan Johnson took Scott Atchison deep in the 10th to end it.
The Sox were 5 1/2 games back. They never got closer than six thereafter.
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