The 2011 Red Sox were on their way to a dominant season that slipped away after an unprecedented collapse. Boston had a .624 winning percentage on August 3 of that season. Not quite where they are at today but it would have been the fifth-best winning percentage in franchise history if they had maintained it. They didn’t.
The division lead over the Yankees was a mere one game at this same point of the 2011 season. However, Boston was 11 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays. This was back in the days where each league only included one Wild Card team so there was less emphasis on winning the division. The goal was to simply make it to the postseason, which seemed all but assured at that point.
By the end of August, Boston increased their lead over the Yankees by half a game. The Rays put only a small dent in their deficit, still trailing by nine games.
We all know what happened next. A dysfunctional clubhouse fell apart during an epic September collapse. The Red Sox lost to the last-place Baltimore Orioles on the final day of the regular season when closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a ninth-inning save. Moments later, Evan Longoria blasted a walk-off home run against a disinterested Yankees bullpen. Tampa Bay finished that season on a five-game winning streak to leap over the Red Sox by one game in the Wild Card race.