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“He’s out at home plate. Lugo looked set to be safe but Posada’s late tag has him out at home plate.” Jeter’s high throw drew Posada off the plate and Lugo’s lunge ought to have seen the Red Sox take a 6-4 lead, with a man on third and an out to play with in the bottom of the seventh.

That was the moment the Red Sox boot should have crushed the Yankees’ throat. A 2-1 series loss leaving them 13 and a half games behind on the back of the demoralising new on Clemens plus an injury to Pettitt would have been devastating.

Instead the “out” saw Boston clinging to a one-run advantage but at least they had their lights-out closing duet to see them through.

Only this time they didn’t. An eighth inning single drove in the tying run and the ninth brought more drama. Papelbon versus A-Rod. Two out and an 0-2 count. Another fizzing fastball stays just a tickle too low. A-Rod’s bat swings sweetly through the line and clubs it into the Red Sox bullpen for 6-5 lead.

Crushing silence descended on the hitherto frenzied Fenway Park stands.

And worse was to follow. The heart of the Red Sox line-up battled through a 26 pitch ninth innings before surrendering to Rivera.

Ah the old ghosts had risen to haunt them.

True Red Sox fans scoff at any mention of a curse. But we know better than that deep down. Oh the Red Sox fans’ curse is no goat, no shade of the bambino. No. The true curse of being a Red Sox fan is this .. No lead is ever big enough … No stretch short enough … No cinch sure enough that you can truly relax and enjoy the moment.

A lifetime of near misses and lost opportunities condemns us to forever to fear the “what if” … to turn rabbit-ears to the whisper of footsteps behind!

Sunday night’s loss to the Yankees may prove to be nothing more than a blip in a remarkable Boston season.

But I can’t help feeling the Red Sox just handed the Yankees a massive morale boost. Abrieu, A-Rod and Manuel Reviera all shone in the clutch, whilst the feted Red Sox pitching wilted against the NY batting order.

Those footsteps may not be much closer, but their tread is more steady.