As the Red Sox and Rays get ready to meet for their fourth series of 2014, both remain wildly far from where each thought they would be with 60 games to play in the regular season.
The Red Sox, who fell to 47-55 with their 8-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday, are 14 games off their 2013 pace that saw them at 61-41 through the same number of games, on their way to an AL East crown and a World Series championship.
The Rays haven’t fared much better, thought they are two games ahead of the Sox and have won seven straight games, posting a 49-53 record through 102 games so far this season, having been 60-42 at the same point in 2013. They later clinched an AL Wild Card spot and earned a berth in the ALDS after beating the Cleveland Indians in the one-game Wild Card playoff.
The last time these two met, there were fireworks at Fenway Park, as David Price and David Ortiz faced off both on and off the field, and the Sox used a series sweep to win seven games in a row following 10 straight losses.
But going into their first series in almost two months, the 2014 playoff aspirations look bleak for both. The Red Sox, having shown signs of life after an 8-1 stretch that saw them seem to make progress, have reverted to the 2014 Sox we know after three consecutive beat downs at the hands of the Blue Jays, being outscored 23-7 in those losses.
The Red Sox are now nine games out of first place in the AL East, and 6.5 out of the second Wild Card spot. The Rays are seven games out of the AL East and 4.5 out of the Wild Card, with each less game counting more and more as the end of the season continues to grow closer.
The most highly anticipated rematch, David Ortiz vs. David Price on Friday, may not even happen now, as Ortiz is dealing with a back injury he suffered in Toronto that could keep him out of the series opener.
So this three-game set at the Trop, which looked like it would be a pivotal series for playoff positioning when the schedule came out, now will look to give one side or the other a boost in getting out of the AL East basement.
And for all those hoping for a heated series between these teams that have developed a pretty good rivalry over the years, that may be the only thing to pull from a weekend set between two squads that will most likely look back on 2014 as a major disappointment.