CLEVELAND -- Down and nearly out, the Red Sox' two most senior players were at a loss to explain how it has gone so wrong, so quickly for them in the playoffs.
One offered generalities and claimed that the team had lost its identity. Another didn't want to talk at all, but was coaxed into doing so by a club official, only to offer terse, short responses.
"I think we've lost who we are,'' said Dustin Pedroia after a demoralizing 6-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians in Game 2. "We're the Boston Red Sox. We need to go out there and we should dictate the tempo of the game, how the game should be played.
"The last couple of days, they did that; we didn't.''
Asked how to regain that identity by Sunday, Pedroia offered few specifics.
"Just play,'' he said. "You just compete against the other team. That's it. All the other stuff -- the information we get, everything, you've got to throw it out the window and play baseball. That's it. We've done it for 162 games, plus these two. It's a matter of competing and competing together.''
Meanwhile, David Ortiz was far less philosophical and far less talkative.
"Got to hit better and pitch better,'' grunted Ortiz in his assessment of the series.
There was no magical elixir, no rallying cry this time. When it was noted that he didn't seem happy, Ortiz didn't disagree.
"Why I should I be happy?'' snapped Ortiz. "They're playing better than we have. . . Should I be happy? We're getting our asses beat. Nothing to celebrate.''
That's for sure. The Red Sox have done little right in the two games to date. They've managed a grand total of four runs, after averaging more than 5.5 during the season. Both of their top two starters have flopped. And defensively, the Sox have been sloppy, from Jackie Bradley Jr's off-target throws to Pedroia failing to turn a routine grounder into a double play, leading to an unearned run Friday.
"You find out a lot about yourself and your team when you're in situations like this,'' said Pedroia.
Starting Sunday, the self-discovery begins. Or else, the season ends.