Red Sox

McAdam: Things seem worse than they are for Red Sox

McAdam: Things seem worse than they are for Red Sox

BOSTON -- There are exactly 50 games remaining to the Red Sox regular season, nearly a third of the schedule, but that's not how it feels.

As noted hardball philosopher Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra once cooly observed: It gets late there early.

Mathematically, there's plenty of time remaining.

Realistically? Not so much.

It's true that the Red Sox remain just 2 1/2 games out of the division lead, with three games in hand. They're just a game out in the loss column. The wild card? The Sox hold down the second spot and are a game-and-a-half out (again, with a game in hand) of the lead.

If the playoffs started today, the Red Sox would be in for the first time since 2013, albeit only qualifying for a one-game playoff.

So why does it feel so dire? Why does it seem like the vibe around the Red Sox isn't as comforting as the standings should suggest?

The Red Sox have been running in place since the All-Star break, with an uninspiring 12-13 record. They've been fortunate that both Baltimore (12-13) and Toronto (13-10) have been about the same.

The division is thoroughly flawed, with all three contenders full of imperfections. At this point, it remains unlikely that any club is capable of pulling away.

But lately, it seems the Red Sox can't get out of their own way. Leading 4-1 in the top of the sixth Wednesday, they watched their bullpen light a match to their lead. From the sixth to the sixth, the Yankees scored eight consecutive runs and stole a game in which their starter was yanked after just one inning due to an arm problem and manager Joe Girardi had to use every member of his bullpen to navigate the final eight innings.

One loss doesn't represent a season, but there were enough troubling signs Wednesday to give even the most ardent optimist pause. There was troubling injury news before the game about starter Steven Wright (shoulder) and in-game removals for the team's two best hitters: David Ortiz (shin) and Mookie Betts (calf).

Starter Drew Pomeranz needed 98 pitches to get through 16 outs. Every reliever not named Clay Buchholz and Brad Ziegler face-planted. And the season-long struggles with the bases loaded continued unabated, with just two runs scored -- neither via hits -- in three such opportunities.

Ortiz's injury wasn't nearly as serious as it first appeared, and Betts, who will have to have his right knee monitored the rest of the way, will likely be back by Friday.

But long after presdient of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski breathed a sigh of relief regarding Ortiz's x-rays, there was the overrding sense that this team fails to inspire much confidence.

Could they hold off all challengers and limp to the finish line, and qualify for the postseason? Possibly.

However, does anyone see this team positioned to go deep into October? Even allowing for the lack of a dominant team in the A.L. -- unlike the N.L., where the Cubs are the clear favorites -- the Sox seem incapable of an extended run.

It's difficult to see the Red Sox, say, overcoming Cleveland's pitching or Texas's formidble lineup.

That's a discussion for later. First, the Red Sox have to get there. And in their current incarnation, despite the current standings, that can hardly be considered a given.

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.