Tomase: No, Dan Shaughnessy, this wasn't worst regular-season loss in Boston sports history

John Tomase
December 11, 2018 - 11:44 am
Kenyan Drake

Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports

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In the immediate aftermath of Sunday's shocking 34-33 defeat to the Dolphins, Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy posed a question: is this the worst non-playoff loss in Boston sports history?

All due respect to the Hall of Fame writer, but not even close! Shaughnessy should know this as well as anyone -- he ended up with a best seller out of the actual standard bearer.

While losing to the Dolphins in their Hard Rock house of horrors was ghoulish, to use Shaughnessy's word, it doesn't come remotely close to Game 162 in 2011, when the Red Sox completed a collapse for the ages in Baltimore.

They began the day needing a win and Tampa loss to clinch a wild card berth after blowing a nine-game playoff lead in September. When they hit an 86-minute rain delay in the seventh with a 3-2 lead and Tampa trailing 7-0 to the Yankees, the season appeared salvaged.

And then it all crumbled in a hail of baseball cruelty. Evan Longoria blasted a three-run homer to bring the Rays within a run. With Tampa down to its last strike, the .108-hitting Dan Johnson snuck the game-tying home run to left field.

Play resumed in Baltimore and with the Orioles down to *their* last strike, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon served up the game-tying double to Nolan Reimold. Robert Andino followed with the game-winning single beneath the glove of the sliding Carl Crawford -- a play Andrew Benintendi makes today without leaving his feet -- and the Red Sox barely had time to digest defeat before Longoria's walk-off homer sent the Rays to the playoffs and the Red Sox home for one of the most eventful offseasons in their history.

Theo Epstein left. Terry Francona left. Bobby Valentine arrived. By the time of the big cleanse in 2012, a trade that shipped malcontents Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers, the Red Sox were already on their way back, not that anyone knew it. They've won two World Series since, including last year's 108-win record-setters.

Shaughnessy can be forgiven for viewing that game in less than negative terms. Francona's departure and one-year hiatus freed him to write a book, and Shaughnessy ended up collaborating on the best-seller (which is a great read, by the way).

So to answer his question, no this was not the worst regular-season loss in Boston history. Not even close.

UPDATE (3 p.m.): Shaughessy has reconsidered and agrees, as he noted in a column sparked by reader submissions this afternoon. (I might've included the Jeff Reardon-Roberto Kelly game from 1991, too. Red Sox were one strike away from first place in late September until Kelly cleared the Monster.)

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