Royals-Red Sox: Final Home Series Crucial for Boston Before Break

Amanda BrunoCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2009

This is it. The final home stretch. This will either make or break the Boston Red Sox, who are barely hanging on to the lead in the American League East over the New York Yankees.

The Yankees already beat the Minnesota Twins this afternoon at the Metrodome and for the next four days (including tonight), Boston is playing host to the Kansas City Royals.
This series is crucial, and the Red Sox need to win it to feel comfortable amidst the four-day break.
And by crucial, here's a flashback that Sox fans care not to recall: 
It's 2006, and Boston reached the halfway point in very devastating fashion at Chicago in a 6-5 19-inning loss to the Chicago White Sox
Jonathan Papelbon came in the bottom of the ninth to seal the deal, but Jermaine Dye had other plans and blasted a solo shot to left field, sending the game into extra innings tied at three.
The Red Sox struck first in the top of the 11th when Mark Loretta hit a two-run RBI single to score Willie Harris and Kevin Youkilis as they went ahead 5-3. However, the White Sox retaliated in the bottom half and tied up the score again. 
The frustration continued until the bottom of the 19th, when Tadahito Iguchi drove in the winning run off of Rudy Seanez, as Chicago literally came all of the way back to win it. Boston led 3-0 at one point, but the White Sox chipped away to score single runs in the fourth, sixth, and ninth.
The game took six hours and 19 minutes, one of the longest games of 2006. 
And what happened after the break? The Red Sox had a massive meltdown in August going 9-21. Yes 9-21. Meltdown highlights include being swept by the Royals, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics, and last, but not least, the Yankees in a five-game series at Fenway Park. The season ended after that.
Boston finished third for the first time since 1997 in the division under the Toronto Blue Jays with an 86-76 record (11 games behind New York).
So again, how crucial is this series for the Red Sox? Things are about to get a little bit more interesting.

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