The Red Sox have lost 62 times here in the 2010 regular season with 22 opportunities for defeat remaining. Some losses have been far more frustrating than others. Some have been downright crushing.
The following list focuses on the latter category. These are the losses that left Sox fans speechless. So hide the women and children, because here are the top 5 worst Red Sox losses of the season…
1. July 25th: Mariners 4, Red Sox 2
Less than 24 hours after breaking up Jon Lester’s no-hit bid, Michael Saunders turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 Mariners’ lead with a 2-run single off Hideki Okajima in the 8th inning. Saunders entered that 4-game set with just 4 hits against left-handed pitching all season.
Okajima had previously botched an intended sacrifice bunt from Casey Kotchman, and Milton Bradley followed with a perfectly placed drag bunt to drive in the inning’s 3rd run. In a series which should have resulted in a 4-game Boston sweep, the Sox watched another one slip away in Seattle.
Boston split the series with one of the worst teams in baseball and needed a sweep in Anaheim to salvage its west coast trip. This time, the Sox couldn’t place any of the blame on the Mariner Moose and his questionable ATV driving skills.
2. August 12th: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 5
The Sox entered the bottom of the 9th inning 3 outs away from a 3-game sweep of the Jays in Toronto. John Lackey began the frame by serving up Jose Bautista’s 36th home run of the season. He was replaced by Jonathan Papelbon, who was 1 save away from becoming the first pitcher ever to begin his career with five straight 30-save seasons.
4 hits, 1 walk, and 1 out later, Pap had tied a career high with his 6th blown save of the year. It also marked his first blown save in 25 career chances against the Blue Jays. Daniel Bard attempted to clean up the mess, but instead served up the game-winning sacrifice fly to Fred Lewis. Much like countless others, the Sox left Canada disappointed.
3. August 13th: Rangers 10, Red sox 9 (11 innings)
The very next night in Texas, the Sox suffered an equally mind-boggling defeat. On the heels of 4 solo home runs in the first 4 innings (including back to back to back shots in a 7-run 4th inning), Josh Beckett was staked to an 8-2 lead. Beckett then gave up 3 bombs of his own and surrendered 6 earned runs in just 5 innings of work.
The Rangers’ comeback continued into the bottom of the 8th when Vladimir Guerrero’s infield single against Daniel Bard scored Josh Hamilton all the way from 2nd. The game went to extra innings before Nelson Cruz perfected his Aaron Boone impression, launching the game-winning home run to left field off Tim Wakefield in the 11th.
It took a long time for Red Nation to recover emotionally from such devastating losses in back to back games. It took even longer for Cruz’s homer to land in the seats.
4. August 28th: Rays 3, Red Sox 2 (10 innings)
It was the middle game of three at Tropicana Field, a series in which the Red Sox had to sweep to realistically stay alive in the Wild Card race. Behind Jon Lester, Boston had already taken game 1 on Friday night. With Cy Young candidate Clay Buchholz on the mound on Saturday, the Sox blew 1-run leads in both the 7th and 8th innings.
In the 7th, an errant Buchholz pickoff attempt sent Carlos Pena (whose base-stealing ability rivals that of a snail) from 1st to 3rd. Pena then scored on a sac fly which J.D. controversially caught in foul ground down the right field line. In the 8th, the vastly overrated B.J. Upton led off the frame with a solo shot to left field to tie the game at 2.
The game went to the 10th inning, at which point Dan Johnson crushed a Scott Atchison offering into the right field seats and the Rays walked off with the win. The loss effectively ended the Red Sox’ season, and Boston would drop the rubber game the following night behind a typically uninspiring effort from John Lackey.
5. September 5th: White Sox 7, Red Sox 5
Jonathan Papelbon entered the 9th inning with a 2-run lead to protect. He left the mound with a new career high in blown saves. Pap’s 7th unsuccessful closing situation of the season put the final nail in the Red Sox’ coffin as Boston was swept by Chicago at Fenway.
Red Sox relievers combined to walk 4 consecutive White Sox batters in the final frame. Robert Manuel walked two of those batters, resulting in the winning and insurance run. 4 runs on 2 hits and 0 errors in the top of the 9th: Not exactly the most well-earned comeback in baseball history.
The season ended the same way it did in 2009 with Papelbon searching for answers in the dugout. His blank look spoke volumes then, and once again, it does now. He was involved in several other disappointing defeats this year, and he’s one of many reasons for the creation of this list.