BALTIMORE — Ten years to the day, the Boston Pink Sox returned to the positioning of one of the calamitous and pivotal evenings of their oft-tortured historical past. And whereas these 2021 Sox aren’t but coated in related ignominy, this late-September fade is nudging them towards that finish.
Gifted with three video games towards a 106-game loser as they combat for survival within the closing week of a all of a sudden frenetic American League wild-card race, the Pink Sox quietly surrendered their first of three photographs on the Baltimore Orioles, managing simply three hits towards the worst pitching workers within the main leagues.
And Tuesday evening’s 4-2 loss, its fourth in a row, left Boston no hope however regard the calendar and measure the calamity of its newest failing.
“That (expletive) sucked,” stated beginning pitcher Chris Sale, whose one important mistake, a poorly positioned changeup, was demolished by Orioles rookie Ryan Mountcastle for a game-tying two-run residence run. “Any game we lose, (expletive sucks). Any game we win, we’re one step closer.
“We’ve been getting drug via the mud the final 4 video games. We gotta discover one thing, man. These video games, they’re not making any extra of them. And we’re attending to the top.”
And as the schedule compresses – two more games against Baltimore, three at Washington to close the season – the standings only get tighter.
Just five days ago, the Red Sox held a two-game lead over the New York Yankees for the American League’s No. 1 wild-card slot, and a three-game lead over Toronto for the No. 2 bid.
Now, after the Yankees cold-cocked them with a three-game sweep at Fenway Park and the Orioles bobbed and weaved for a victory Tuesday, the Red Sox are in the position of begging the Yankees for mercy.
Forget hosting the wild card game at Fenway. The Yankees’ 7-2 win at Toronto extended their lead over Boston to two games with five to play. And though it kept the Blue Jays off the Red Sox’s tail – Toronto still trails Boston by a game for the No. 2 wild card – Seattle is now their biggest problem. The Mariners won again at home against Oakland and pulled within a half-game of the Red Sox.
It wasn’t supposed to be this tenuous.
The Red Sox led the AL East into August and have been in playoff position ever since, save for a virtual third-place tie for two days in mid-September. A seven-game win streak preceded this four-game skid.
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Yet the calendar can no longer accommodate the Red Sox’s streaky tendencies.
“Our aim is to win each sequence, one right here, one in Washington,” manager Alex Cora said, opting for painful literalism in the face of adversity. “Nobody’s hiding from it; after all, they know what’s at stake.
“But you try to keep it as normal as possible.”
That is not usually attainable for this franchise. On Sept. 28, 2011, the Pink Sox capped one of many biggest September collapses in baseball historical past – 20 losses in 27 video games – with a walk-off loss at Camden Yards – that, paired with Evan Longoria’s Twelfth-inning walk-off homer at Tampa Bay – knocked them out of the postseason altogether.
That marked the top of supervisor Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein’s tenures, spawning new generations of Sox that delivered World Sequence titles in 2013 and 2018.
Tuesday’s low level was far quieter, the ramifications not so dramatic. The Orioles, whose 5.81 workers ERA coming into Tuesday was almost a run worse than the No. 29 group, retired the ultimate 12 Pink Sox batters after Hunter Renfroe’s residence run main off the sixth inning. Boston has failed to attain greater than three runs on this four-game streak.
Whereas the wild-card race is taut, its individuals are flawed, and matchups important. On this atmosphere, Sale vs. the Orioles was a must-win. In any case, the Blue Jays will get their very own three-game window towards the Orioles in Toronto over the weekend.
Which will depart Sale pitching for the Pink Sox’s season Sunday at Washington, the final of 5 video games in a wrestle for survival that Sale insists is inner.
“It’s not even us vs. anybody,” Sale stated. “It’s us vs. us. We just gotta win games. The more we get back to that, the better we’ll be.”