Boston Red Sox and the 6 Biggest Late-Season Colllapses in MLB History

Alexander DiegelCorrespondent IIISeptember 29, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 28: Relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon #58 of the Boston Red Sox walks off the field after giving up the winning run in the ninth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles defeated the Red Sox 4-3.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

6) 1978 Boston Red Sox: eight games ahead of New York Yankees on Aug. 12

This season’s collapse is not the first for the Boston Red Sox. The ’78 Sox blew their eight-game lead by playing mediocre baseball, while the Yankees closed the season on a 35-15 tear.

The collapse led to a one-game playoff Red Sox fans can describe in three words: “Bucky F— Dent.”


5) 1969 Cubs: eight Games ahead of New York Mets with 40 games left

No list of MLB travesties would be complete without an appearance by those loveable losers, the Chicago Cubs. The team featured Hall of Fame ace Fergie Jenkins, Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks and power-hitting third baseman Ron Santo.

None of the Cubs' stars could stop the team from finishing the year 15-25 and losing the division to the "Miracle" Mets.


4) 2009 Detroit Tigers: first-place lead from May 10 to Game 162

The Tigers held the division lead for nearly the entire season. They surrendered some games to the Minnesota Twins, but had a four-game series against the team to seal things up. The Tigers only had to win one game out of the four, and they would come away with the division. They didn’t.


3) 2007 New York Mets: seven-game lead over Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 12

After a 2006 NLCS appearance, the Mets were a World Series favorite and all was going to plan until the final two weeks of the season. The team had one last chance to get it right on the final game of the year. Then 300-game winner Tom Glavine had one of the worst performances of his career, and the game was over by the end of the first inning.

This collapse may have shaped the NL East as we know it: The Mets have not been back to the playoffs, while the Phillies have won the division every season since.


2) 1995 California Angels: 12.5 games ahead of Seattle Mariners on Aug. 20

Not only did the team hold a 12.5-game lead in the division, they held a 12-game lead over the New York Yankees in the wild card, just in case. Somehow, the team managed to blow both leads.

The Angels collapsed so badly (12-26 to finish season) they opened the door for their own comeback. The Mariners opened a three-game lead and the Angels rallied to force a one-game playoff. Randy Johnson finished off his first truly dominant season (18-2) by overpowering the Angels’ lineup en route to an eight-run victory. 


1) 2011 Boston Red Sox: nine-game lead over Tampa Bay Rays on Sept. 1

It is tough to beat the Angels’ collapse. On Wednesday night, the Boston Red Sox managed just that. Entering the season, the Red Sox were the World Series favorite in the American League. They held the AL East lead in August, and the worst-case scenario of a wild card berth was in the bag.

A 7-20 record in September split that bag wide open. The pitching was historically bad—truly shocking considering it featured four World Series Champions in Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Tim Wakefield. The collapse was personified by ace closer Jonathan Papelbon’s final stat line: two-thirds IP, three hits, two runs and one big fat L.