After 160 games and a long, brutally hot summer, we’re right back where we started. The Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays have 2 games to figure out who is going to be representing the American League in the Wild Card Race. And if they don’t, we get 1 game of extra baseball at the Trop. If Tampa and the Red Sox end up tied for the Wild Card at midnight Thursday, the Red Sox will pack their bags and head to Tampa to take on the Rays.
The Red Sox are in a terrible spot right now. They have squandered a 9-game lead in 25 games, lost all the momentum a huge win in the Bronx gave with a loss to the Orioles, and for lack of a better word, have been plain AWFUL. If the Sox and Tampa both win tonight, the Sox would be forced to pitch Jon Lester on Wednesday night to keep them incontention. If Boston battles Tampa in that one game playoff the Sox are looking at Andrew Miller, Kyle Weiland, John Lackey (on short rest), or Tim Wakefield (on short rest) as potential starters. To put it simply, Boston’s chances don’t look very good.
But, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Erik Bedard comes out tonight and shocks the world and throws a gem. And maybe through it all, the Yankees HELP the Red Sox and our old friend Bartolo Colon outduels Jeremy Hellickson and the Sox guarantee that Wednesday won’t be the end of their 2011 campaign. And then maybe Lester comes out on short rest and proves why he was predicted to win the AL Cy Young at the beginning of the year and the Sox will taste October baseball for the first time since 2009. Or maybe it goes the other way. Who really knows at this point. I just know I’ll be watching. And praying.
Note: Check out Dan Szymborski’s article at http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7023605/boston-red-sox-trade-options-final-day. Some fun food for thought on who the Red Sox could rent for one game to get them into the playoffs if a one-game playoff is necessary on Thursday. Szymborski has a lot of interesting opinions of who to bring in including this guy: