Red Sox Lose, Rays Win, Season Comes To An End As Collapse Is Complete

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 28: Marco Scutaro #10 of the Boston Red Sox walks in the dugout after a 4-3 loss against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 28, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Red Sox lost, the Rays won, and now Boston and all the fans are left stunned, unsure of how to pick up the pieces.

It was slow. It was sudden. It was the definition of roller coaster. And now it's over, and with it, the Red Sox' season, as prematurely as any in recent memory.

From a double-digit "playoff spot" lead to a Game 162 exit, the Red Sox have fallen and fallen far. But what makes it different this time is just how it happened.

There was no Game 163. This was not a play-in game where the Sox lost to their competition like in 1978. Instead they had to watch as the Rays had a made-for-Hollywood come back from down 7-0 in the seventh against the New York Yankees' bullpen. They had to watch Dan Johnson--yes, that Dan Johnson--hit an equalizing homer with the Rays down to their last strike.

They also had to watch the Orioles do the same on a ground-rule double from Nolan Reimold. Two strikes, two outs, a man on second, and then a tie game, just like that.

It was perfectly orchestrated, too. At almost the exact moment that the Sox lost the lead, the Yankees blew a huge offensive opportunity in the top of the eleventh. That the separation between the end of the Sox' game on a walk-off single by Robert Andino--who else?--and the end of Tampa's on an Evan Longoria homer was a minute or two, well, it's one flaw in an otherwise perfectly terrible picture.

Where do the Sox go from here? Its impossible to say. Will heads roll? Will the albatrosses be cut loose or traded? First there's the question of just how to wake up in the morning, because right now, that seems like challenge enough.

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