The Top 10 Biggest and Worst Collapses in Baseball History

Matt HurstContributor IIISeptember 29, 2011

The Top 10 Biggest and Worst Collapses in Baseball History

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    Both the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves suffered late September collapses to close the 2011 season, each team losing what seemed a surefire spot in the playoffs by dropping Game 162, each in dramatic fashion.

    Boston became the only team to hold a 9 game lead and not make the playoffs in September while Atlanta led by 8.5 games as late as September 5th.

    But, where does each of their collapses rank in baseball history?

10: 2005 Cleveland Indians

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    With seven games left in the 2005 season the Cleveland Indians had a 1.5 game lead in the Wild Card race and were just 2.5 games back in the AL Central after winning nine of their previous 10 games.

    However, the Indians lost three of the next four games to bottom-feeders Kansas City and Tampa Bay before playing host to the Chicago White Sox for the season's final weekend. 

    The White Sox swept the Indians and Cleveland lost out on a playoff berth.

9: 1978 Boston Red Sox

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    The term "Boston Massacre" was used to refer to a season-changing weekend when the Yankees swept Boston at Fenway Park to help erase a 7.5 game Boston lead with 32 games remaining.

    The Red Sox lost 14 of 17 during that stretch, yet won their final eight games to force a one-game playoff at Yankee Stadium.

    That was the night that Bucky Dent became better known in New England as Bucky Bleepin' Dent.

8: 1995 California Angels

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    With an 11.5 games lead on August 9, the Angels were playing their best baseball in nearly a decade.

    But the team went 12-27 in their final 39 games—which included winning five straight to end the season— allowing the Seattle Mariners to catch them.

    The teams ended the season tied, forcing a one-game playoff in Seattle. Randy Johnson completely shut down the Angels in a 9-1 victory with 12 strikeouts.

7: 1969 Chicago Cubs

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    The Cubs held a 9.5 game lead on August 14th and entering play on August 20, still had a 98% probability chance of making the postseason.

    Leave it to the Cubbies to find a way to lose out.

    Chicago lost 14 of their final 20 and ended up losing the division to the Mets by eight games. That means there was a change in standings of 17 games in the season's final six weeks.

6: 1987 Toronto Blue Jays

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    Holding a 3.5 game lead with seven games left, the Blue Jays appeared to be in control.

    Taking a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning vs. Detroit on the penultimate Sunday of the season, Kirk Gibson homered to tie the game and the Tigers won in 13 innings.

    The Blue Jays didn't win again.

5: 2007 New York Mets

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    Talk about an up-and-down finish to a season.

    The Mets had a seven game lead on September 12 and were a clear favorite and then the wheels came off.

    New York lost five in a row. Then they won four of five. Finally, they lost six of their final seven.

    On the final day of the season Tom Glavine allowed seven earned runs in 1/3 of an inning to complete the collapse.

4: 2011 Atlanta Braves

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    Atlanta seemingly had the Wild Card wrapped up in August.

    They led San Francisco by 9 games and St. Louis by 9.5 on August 29 and then as the Giants faded, the Braves led the Cardinals by 8.5 games on Sept. 6.

    The lead still seemed safe in the season's final week when Atlanta led by three games with five to go.

    Then, on the final day, knowing St. Louis had won, the Braves bullpen broke down, allowed rival Philadelphia to score the tying run in the ninth and Atlanta lost in 13 innings.

3: 2009 Detroit Tigers

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    How does this even happen?

    The Tigers were in first place from May 10 until the final day of the season. They led Minnesota by three games with four to play and somehow didn't make the playoffs.

    The Twins beat the Tigers with four days remaining then swept the Royals while Detroit won just one of its final three vs. the White Sox.

    That set up a one-game playoff in Minnesota where the Tigers actually led in the 10th inning before losing in 12th.

2: 2011 Boston Red Sox

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    Forget the Wild Card. The Red Sox were thinking AL East champs as they led the division heading into the final month of the season.

    Then, disaster struck.

    By Labor Day weekend they were out of first place, yet still nine games up over Tampa Bay.

    Boston lost 20 games in the month of September and became the first team ever to hold a 9 game lead in September and not make the playoffs.

    Adding to the insult, Boston led 3-2 in the ninth inning over the Orioles and had Baltimore down to its last strike before eventually losing 4-3. To top it off the arch rival Yankees coughed up a 7-0 lead and lost to the Rays 8-7 in extra innings.

1: 1964 Philadelphia Phillies

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    The collapse by which all are measured.

    The Phillies led by 6.5 games with 12 to go, yet lost 10 in a row.

    Much of the blame—and rightly so—fell on the shoulders of manager Gene Mauch who started pitchers Jim Bunning and Chris Short in seven of the team's final 10 games, with six of those starts coming on two days rest. The Phillies lost all of them.

    This epic collapse is known as "The Phold."