Red Sox Nation’s worst fears have been realized.
Boston’s wild-card lead, which was nine games going into play on Sept. 4, is gone.
Completely, absolutely gone.
The Sox entered the night with a one-game lead over the Rays in the wild-card race. But the Orioles handed Boston a 6-3 defeat at Camden Yards, wrapping up mere minutes after Tampa Bay topped the Yankees 5-2 at home.
The Sox and Rays are both 89-71. That means a season that started as a 162-game marathon is down to a two-night sprint.
Jacoby Ellsbury was the hero Sunday night in New York, saving the Sox’s lead with a 14th-inning home run.
But like so much else for Boston this month, his status didn’t last long. With two runners on in the bottom of the sixth, Ellsbury chased down a Robert Andino drive to deep center — only to see it bounce out of his glove as he hit the wall for an inside-the-park home run.