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The Early Lead
Posted at 03:20 PM ET, 09/23/2011

Red Sox vs. Yankees: Boston looking to avoid epic collapse


David Ortiz and the Red Sox are searching for answers as they head to New York for a crucial weekend series with the Yankees. (Jim Rogash - Getty Images)
In nine seasons in Boston, David Ortiz has seen a curse lifted and one of baseball’s historic franchises return to the ranks of Major League Baseball’s best. He’s also experienced playoff disappointment and seasons that fell short of the postseason entirely.

But Ortiz recently admitted he’s never seen anything like the current funk that threatens to keep a team that looked like a postseason lock a few short weeks ago at home in front of the TV in October.

“We’ve never collapsed that bad,” Ortiz said following loss to Baltimore on Wednesday night. “Trust me, we’ve been through some tough times. But this is bad. No matter what we do, things are going to be bad. Right now it’s depressing.”

Plainly put, it’s panic time for the Red Sox, who are a miserable 5-16 in September and have watched their comfortable lead in the AL Wild Card race slip to a mere two games.

Fortunately for fans in Beantown, the Sox still control their own destiny — but a series loss against the New York Yankees this weekend could spell disaster.

John Lester takes the mound in the Bronx Friday night as Boston looks to halt its freefall against Freddy Garcia and the Bronx Bombers.

On Sept. 2, the Red Sox were nine games ahead of the rest of the AL Wild Card pack. But the wheels came off in the weeks that followed, leaving Boston battered and baffled at their stunning collapse. Meantime, the Yankees are celebrating yet another AL East division title and yukking it up while their division rivals scratch and claw for the Wild Card.

From high-priced free agent flops Carl Crawford and John Lackey to banged up veterans like Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett and Erik Bedard, there’s plenty of blame to go around the clubhouse. And that could extend into the front office as well where GM Theo Epstein failed to provide reinforcements to the pitching rotation — despite a recent report that he targetted Mets’ starter Chris Capuano.

When questioned about the team’s drive to get back to the postseason, closer Jonathan Papelbon called recent remarks that the team is lacking passion “completely asinine.”

But that’s a phrase Papelbon and the Red Sox can expect to hear all through the offseason if they fail to right the ship in time to make the playoffs.

By  |  03:20 PM ET, 09/23/2011

 
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