Weeks ago, most of Red Sox Nation seemed to give up on the idea that the Sox could overtake the Yankees and win the AL East. The conventional wisdom was that the team was now fighting to overtake the Rays for the Wild Card spot.
But things have recently changed.
In the last 10 games, the Yankees are 5-5, while the Rays have gone 9-1, tying New York for the AL East lead.
For their part, the Red Sox are 6-4 in the last 10 games. But they are just 8-9 since the All Star break, putting them 6 ½ in back of the Yankees and Rays for both the AL East title and the Wild Card.
It is increasingly looking like 95 wins won't be enough to get the Sox into the postseason this year. To win 100 games, they will need to go 40-16 the rest of the way, which includes 10 games against the Yankees, six against the Rays, and seven against the first-place White Sox.
I'm not here to say that's impossible, but it's fair to say it's highly unlikely.
The Red Sox are the walking wounded and look like a MASH unit. Last night, Eric Patterson, Ryan Kalish, and Daniel Nava played in the outfield. Who could have imagined that in April? Most fans had never even heard of any of them.
Jason Varitek, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury are all out. As customary, Terry Francona never knows when JD Drew will be hurt and unable to play.
Drew has played in 94 games so far this season. If he plays in the remaining 56 (an unlikely scenario), he will reach 150 games, or four more than he's ever played in any season of his 12-year career.
Francona is dealing with unpredictability on a nightly basis.
Darnell McDonald has played in more big league games this season than in his entire career with three previous clubs. And when the season started, who could have guessed that Bill Hall would have appeared in 76 games and have over 200 at-bats for the Sox? That's more than Varitek, Ellsbury, and Cameron; simply unpredictable.
The surprising Red Sox offense has suddenly cooled. In the 17 games since the break, the Sox have scored more than four runs just six times. And they have scored three or less seven times.
Increasingly, Red Sox starters have to be dominant, and go at least seven innings, for the team to win. The Sox' bullpen has been lamentable, to say the least, this season.
Yes, there are still waiver deals that can be completed in August, but it's likely that none of them will have significant impact. For better or worse, this is the team.
Yes, they will eventually see the returns of Varitek, Pedroia and perhaps even Ellsbury (don't hold your breath). But by then, it may be too little, too late.
To further add to the team's woes and misery, Kevin Youkilis was placed on the 15-day DL today due to a ruptured muscle in his right thumb. If the muscle fully tears, it would result in a serious injury requiring surgery. Such an injury could potentially affect his career.
As it is, Youkilis' season, like that of the Red Sox, is in jeopardy.
In this decade, it's unusual to declare that the Red Sox season is over and lost in August, but at this point, that seems to be the case.
One hundred wins is just wildly unrealistic.
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