The Red Sox led not just the wild card, not just the division but the entire American League going into September. Boston went 7-20 the rest of the way, seeing the hated Yankees pass them for the East lead and, on the final day of the season, the Rays complete their comeback from nine games down to snatch the wild card. On the final night, the Red Sox lost on an Orioles walk-off in the ninth inning, and the Rays, down 7-0 in the eighth, walked off on an Evan Longoria home run in the 12th to beat the Yankees. The two games finished within minutes of each other. The Red Sox's September collapse, squandering a nine-game lead, is the greatest in MLB history. Only one team, the Twins (6-20), was worse over the final month.
2 of 17John Bazemore/AP
2011 Atlanta Braves
The Braves had almost no chance of winning the NL East on Sept. 1, but they led the wild card by 8 1/2 games over the Cardinals. Their collapse mirrored that of the Red Sox. Atlanta entered the final night tied with the Cardinals and lost in heartbreaking fashion. Facing the Phillies, stellar Braves closer Craig Kimbrel surrendered the tying run with two outs in the ninth inning. The Phillies went on to win in 13 innings. Earlier, the Cardinals had beaten the Astros 8-0. The Braves' season was over. The Cardinals went an NL-best 18-8 in September. The Braves? 9-18, worst in the NL.
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2009 Detroit Tigers
Trying to win their first division title since 1987, the Tigers owned a seven-game division lead over Minnesota on Sept. 6. But the pennant eluded Detroit, thanks to an 11-16 finish to the season, culminating in a heartbreaking, 12-inning loss to Minnesota in a one-game tiebreaker. The Tigers became the first team since 1901 to miss the playoffs after holding a three-game lead with just four to play. The Twins went 17-4 down the stretch to claim the division title and an ALDS date with the Yankees.
4 of 17Rich Pilling/Getty Images
2008 New York Mets
For the second consecutive season, the Mets choked away an NL East title down the stretch. New York held first place by a season-high 3 1/2 games with 17 left, but went 7-10 the rest of the way. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Mets became the first team ever to hold 3 1/2-game division leads in consecutive Septembers and fail to make the postseason both times (excluding the 1981 split season). "We failed. We failed as a team," David Wright said. "There's no pointing fingers. There's no excuses. We as a unit didn't get the job done."
5 of 17John Iacono/SI
2007 New York Mets
Up seven games with 17 remaining in the season, the Mets went 5-12 down the stretch to finish one game behind the Phillies in the NL East and out of the playoffs. The collapse included a 1-6 homestand against the Nationals, Cardinals and Marlins to end the season, including an 8-1 rout in which 300-game winner Tom Glavine failed to get out of the first inning.
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1995 California Angels
On Aug. 9, the Angels led Texas and Seattle by 11 games in the AL West. Seattle and California ended up tied, and the Mariners won a one-game playoff when they pounded Angels ace Mark Langston 9-1.
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1993 San Francisco Giants
On July 22, the Giants led Atlanta by 10 games. The Braves went 49-16 down the stretch to win the NL West by one game despite an MVP season from Barry Bonds, the third of his career.
8 of 17Jerry Wachter/SI
1987 Toronto Blue Jays
They held a 3 1/2-game lead on the Tigers with seven games left, but the Blue Jays failed to win another game. Detroit swept Toronto in the final series of the season, winning all three games by one run. Lloyd Moseby (pictured) hit 26 home runs and stole 39 bases for the Jays.
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1978 Boston Red Sox
On July 19, the Red Sox led the Yankees by 14 games. New York went 52-21 down the stretch to tie Boston for first place in the AL East. The Yankees won a one-game divisional playoff thanks to Bucky Dent, right, and Reggie Jackson. A three-run homer by Dent gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the 7th and a solo shot by Jackson in the 8th helped the team hold on to win 5-4.
10 of 17Neil Leifer/SI
1969 Chicago Cubs
On Aug. 14, the Cubs led the Mets by 9 1/2 games in the NL East. Chicago then went 8-17 in September and finished eight games behind New York despite the presence of Hall of Famers Ernie Banks (pictured), Ferguson Jenkins and Billy Williams.
11 of 17Walter Iooss Jr./SI
1964 Philadelphia Phillies
On Sept. 21, slugger Johnny Callison and the Phillies led St. Louis and Cincinnati by 6 1/2 games with 12 to play. Philadelphia lost 10 in a row and lost the NL pennant to St. Louis. If the Cardinals had lost on the final day of the season, an unprecedented three-team playoff between St. Louis, the Reds and the Phillies would have resulted. Of course, the Cards won.
12 of 17John G. Zimmerman/SI
1962 Los Angeles Dodgers
Even the awesome duo of Don Drysdale (25-9) and Sandy Koufax (14-7) couldn't stave off this fade. The Dodgers lost 10 of their final 13 (including their last four in a row) to blow a four-game lead to the Giants in the final week of the season. A three-game playoff for the NL pennant ensued, won by the Giants.
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1951 Brooklyn Dodgers
On Aug. 11, the Dodgers led the Giants by 13 1/2 games, but the Giants won 16 in a row at one point and went 37-7 overall before winning a three-game playoff, which culminated in Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World.
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1942 Brooklyn Dodgers
On Aug. 5, Pee Wee Reese and the defending NL-champion Dodgers were 10 games ahead of the Cardinals, who won 43 of 51 games on the way to the NL pennant. The Cardinals won 106 games to the Dodgers' 104, which is the most wins ever by a club that didn't make the playoffs.
15 of 17National Baseball Hall of Fame
1938 Pittsburgh Pirates
On Sept. 4, the Pirates led the Cubs by seven games, but thanks to Gabby Hartnett's "homer in the gloamin'," Chicago won the NL pennant by two games despite the efforts of Pittsburgh's Arky Vaughan (pictured) and brothers Paul "Big Poison" and Lloyd "Little Poison" Waner.
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1934 New York Giants
This was the first team to enter September with a seven-game lead and lose the pennant. The Giants played .500 for the month while the Gashouse Gang Cardinals finished 33-12. Future Hall of Famer Mel Ott belted 35 home runs for the second-place Giants.
17 of 17National Baseball Hall of Fame
1914 New York Giants
On July 21, the Christy Mathewson-led Giants held a 10 1/2-game edge on the Boston "Miracle" Braves, who ended up winning the pennant by 10 1/2 games thanks to a 34-10 run to finish the season.
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