If you're looking for some positive news on the Red Sox front, it's that they're still within reach of that 100-win season we all ballyhooed so much about over the winter.
If they win every one of their remaining 14 games.
Unless it's Detroit - winners of 12 straight and counting - we're talking about, what are the odds of that happening?
On Aug. 27, following a doubleheader sweep of the A's, the Sox needed to go only 18-11 to reach the century mark. There was a fairly conservative chance they could accomplish that feat, especially considering they had just come off an impressive stretch in which they won three of four from the Rangers, who seemingly had the Sox' number this year. Since Aug. 27, Boston has won only four times. It's actually somewhat remarkable that Boston's wild card lead over the Rays has shrunk three games in the process.
Let's give some credit to the Rays for sweeping the Sox last weekend at Tropicana Field, but it's not exactly like they've caught fire. Since Aug. 27, Tampa Bay is 10-6 and has managed to gain an entire half-game on the AL East-leading Yankees. Detroit is 14-3 over that span. New York is 12-6.
Just to reach Theo Epstein's magic 95 mark, Boston has to go 9-5. Is there a chance it can even do that? Heck, can the Sox win 90?
The Rays come to town for a four-game series this weekend with their pitching lined up while the Red Sox will send Kyle "Plush" Weiland to the mound tonight while Erik Bedard nurses one of Boston's 14 different injuries. The Tampa Tribune's Roger Mooney presents the numbers that Rays pitchers have to boast against Boston this season:
The Rays have a 2.69 ERA against the Red Sox this season in 14 games, holding the once-believed to be mighty Boston lineup with a .177 batting average.
The Rays are 4-1 at Fenway this season, which means the mystic that surrounds the ancient ball park matters little to the Rays.
Here's how the starting rotation for this series has done against Boston.
Hellickson: 1-1 in 3 starts with a 3.93 ERA. He is 1-0 at Fenway.
Shields: 2-2 with a 2,87 ERA and two complete games. He is 0-1 at Fenway despite throwing an eight-inning complete-game up there the last time.
Niemann: 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA and one complete-game two starts. He's 1-0 at Fenway with the complete-game.
Price: 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four starts, including 2-0 with a 1:14 ERA in two starts at Fenway.
As for the Sox,
Weiland: 6.75 ERA in his one, abbreviated (four innings) start last weekend.
Josh Beckett: 1-0 in two starts with a 0.00 ERA over 17 innings. It will be his first start in 11 days.
Jon Lester: 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA over 18 innings pitched. Lester allowed three runs in an April loss, and then, of course, had last weekend's uncharacteristic outing in Florida.
Tim Wakefield: 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA over 10 1/3 innings of work.
If the Sox can take two out of four, things will be status quo heading into next week when Boston gets four against the Orioles, three against the Yankees (who may have clinched by that point). Of course, the Sox have only won two games since Sept. 6, so two over the span of four days could amount to a titan task.
The Rays, meanwhile, have seven against the Yankees, four next week when New York could clinch the division, and three at home to close out the year, when the Yankees could toss whatever AA pitcher they find on the street. Still, the bottom line is Boston has seven games remaining against 60-88 Baltimore. The Rays have seven against 90-57 New York.
Should be simple. But this Red Sox team has proven anything but.
But 100 wins...well, there's still that.