The collapse was completed Wednesday night after game 162 saw the Red Sox once again blow a late game lead.  With the 4-3 loss to the Orioles, the Red Sox could only sit and wait to see what happened over 1,000 miles away in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Well they didn’t have to wait long.  Not even 20 minutes after the Sox suffered a crushing loss, Evan Longoria ripped a solo shot over the short left field wall to officially complete the collapse for Boston.  The season’s over, no postseason in Boston.  The nightmare is real.

It’s the morning after and things aren’t any better.  There are a lot of questions and it’s going to take all winter to try and figure out this Red Sox baseball club.

But what happened last night?  Papelbon came in to the game when he should and looked good getting two outs.  He even had the Red Sox one strike away from winning the game and at the least, securing a one game showdown with Tampa on Thursday.  He couldn’t get it done.  Was it the fact that he was overworked in the past four nights, going a combined 3.3 innings and throwing almost 60 pitches?  Most likely.  It was his third blown save of the season, leaving him with a total of 31 for the year.

To me, the biggest reason for the Red Sox not winning last night was once again the offense.  They had an abundance of hits and plenty of opportunity to score runs, but the bats couldn’t get it done.  They only mustered three runs against a pitcher who’s ERA was well north of 4.00.  The Sox pounded out 11 hits and probably should’ve scored 8 to 10 runs.

Terry Francona has to also take some of the blame for last night’s loss.  It was the top of the ninth, runners on first and third with only one out.  Ryan Lavarnway comes to the plate.  Wait, what?  Sure the kid had a big night one night prior, but he hadn’t done anything during the game.  We needed insurance runs before heading to the bottom of the ninth, so why not bring in a pinch hitter.  Josh Reddick was sitting on the bench and then you’ve got Jarrod Saltalamacchia available to catch the rest of the game.  We’ve been told for the past two days that he was healthy enough to play, so don’t start using that excuse.  It was one inning of mismanagement by Francona and it eventually cost the Red Sox their season.

It’s hard to ignore what happened in Tampa.  I get that the Yankees basically gave it away, but you can’t write a better script than in the bottom of the ninth.  Dan Johnson was the pinch hitter and he was down to his last strike, only to launch the next pitch for a game tying solo shot.  That was pretty dramatic and electrifying if you’re a Rays fan. 

But it never should’ve gotten that far.  New York manager Joe Girardi played with his pitchers like they were play-dough.  Who the hell uses eleven pitchers in twelve innings?

Isn’t it ironice how the Red Sox were one strike away from winning the Wild Card and the Rays were down to their last strike from being eliminated, only to have the whole thing reversed?  That’s baseball and now all Red Sox Nation is left with is the big question of “what happened?”  It’s not ‘what if’ or ‘what could’ve been’, it’s simply ‘what happened?’

Let the finger pointing begin as someone has to be held accountable for this colossal collapse.

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