Major League Baseball’s regular season is winding down and both the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles are enjoying comfortable leads in their respective divisions.
But before Nats and O’s fans start making postseason plans they should remember that a big lead in September is anything but a sure thing … just ask fans of these teams that endured some of the worst late-season collapses in baseball history.
New York Mets — 2007
The Mets appeared to be a postseason lock with a 7-game lead on Sept. 12, but then the roller-coaster began. New York lost five games in a row, then rebounded to win four of its next five games, before finishing the season by losing six of its final seven games. Add it all up and you have one of the most embarrassing collapses in MLB history.
Detroit Tigers — 2009
Not to be outdone, that same year the Tigers held a 3-game lead over the Twins with just four games left on the schedule. Detroit then proceeded to lose three of its final four to back its way into a one-game playoff with Minnesota. The Tigers lost the playoff in 12 innings, but not before blowing a 10th-inning lead in that game.
Atlanta Braves — 2011
The Braves played a major role in one of the craziest days in baseball history. Atlanta held an 8.5-game lead over the Cardinals on Sept. 6, which St. Louis cut to 3 with five games to go. On the final day of the season the Cardinals won, forcing the Braves to beat the Phillies to clinch their playoff spot. Atlanta took a lead into the 9th inning but its bullpen blew the lead, and the Braves eventually lost the game — and their playoff spot — in the 12th inning.
Boston Red Sox — 2011
On the very same night the Braves choked away their season, Boston did the same. The Red Sox blew a 3-2 lead over the Orioles — after having Baltimore down to its final strike — and the rival Yankees blew a 7-0 lead over the Rays just minutes later. Boston held a 9-game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL Wild Card after Labor Day weekend, but the team’s now-infamous penchant for “fried chicken and beer” eventually caught up to them. The Red Sox lost 20 games in September and became the first team in MLB history to miss the playoffs after holding a 9-game lead in the final month of the season.
Philadelphia Phillies — 1964
The Phillies had a 6.5-game lead with 12 games left in the season … and somehow missed the playoffs. Philadelphia lost 10 in a row to cap off the epic collapse now known as “The Phold.” Manager Gene Mauch tried out an interesting strategy by starting pitchers Jim Bunning and Chris Short in seven of the team’s final 10 games — all of which were losses.
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