Tonight could be a milestone night for the Boston Red Sox, but not of the positive variety.
Yesterday, the Baltimore Orioles walked off on the Tampa Bay Rays, pushing their record to 81-62 on the season. As such, this can no longer be a losing baseball season for them. For the first time since 1997, the Orioles will not end beneath .500. A win tonight, and they've got their first taste of winning ball in far too long.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, lost to the Yankees, falling to 64-80. That, of course, leaves them one loss away from ensuring they won't finish above .500. The last time that happened? 1997.
If the Sox lose tonight--and, really, we have to assume at this point that they will given that they're averaging about a win a week of late--and either the Orioles or the Yankees win, the math will have finally caught up to what we have known for some time now: that they will not be winning the A.L. East. Their elimination number sits at two.
Of course, given that the Yankees and Orioles are also tied for the second wild card, if both of them win while Boston falls, that will mean that even a perfect scenario cannot see the Red Sox into the postseason.
But oh, this wouldn't be the Red Sox if it weren't lose-lose-lose-lose-lose. Because as Geoff Young over at MLB Draft Derby notes, a win tonight eliminates the Sox from contention for the top draft pick. The only way Boston doesn't find itself eliminated from some race tonight is if all three teams happen to lose except for the Astros, who win. And that just postpones the festivities for another day!
The good news is that none of this should be news to anyone. Usually these sorts of mathematical milestones go by unobserved except, perhaps, by some recordholders out there who pop champagne every time their place in history is preserved. But tonight, at least, we have a pretty curious confluence of them all falling on one night, and it would really be a shame to ignore it.