The Red Sox had their chance.
They could have beefed up during the just-completed homestand and taken advantage of the worst team in the American League (Minnesota) and another that was only three games over .500 when it came to town (Detroit).
Instead, the Red Sox were just 2-5 in the last seven games at Fenway, losing ground in the standings to the Orioles and Blue Jays rather than making the race tighter.
That's not to suggest the Red Sox played their way out of contention in the last week. There are better than two months remaining in the season and the schedule isn't yet two-thirds complete.
Moreover, there is no dominant team in the East, and, thus, no one capable of pulling away and leaving the rest of the teams in their wake.
Baltimore and Toronto are flawed, too, as the first 100 or so games of the season have demonstrated.
But what the disappointing homestand means is this: Because they didn't win as much as they should at Fenway in the last week, the Sox will have to make up for that on the road.
As has been talked about ad nauseum in the last week, the schedule is about to become more demanding for the Red Sox. It's bad enough that they're in the middle of a stretch that will see them enjoy one (1) day off in the span of 44 days. Making matters worse is that 41 of the final 63 games are away from home -- including the next 11.
Put another way: The Red Sox have not yet had a three-city road trip this season, but all four of their remaining trips are of the three-city variety, including two that include travel to the West Coast.
The Red Sox have played fairly well on the road (21-19) -- they're one of just four teams in the American League with a winning road record -- but the simple fact remains: It's harder to win on the road than it is at home. And that's before you take into consideration the toll that lengthy road trips can take.
Of the next three road opponents, one has a losing record, and another is just two games over .500. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers, next weekend's interleauge road opponent, are playoff contenders from among that group.
Then again, the Red Sox thought they could roll over the Twins last weekend and came away with a four-game split, so it's difficult to handicap these things.
It should help, too, that the Red Sox are getting healthier.
Junichi Tazawa returned this week, and Craig Kimbrel could be back as early as Monday in Seattle. Chris Young and Josh Rutledge could rejoin them before they head out on their next road swing in mid-August.
With all the talk of the daunting schedule and demanding travel ahead, Dustin Pedroia was having none of it.
"We can play just as well on the road as we have at home,'' said Pedroia. "That stuff (the schedule) is irrelevant.''
Maybe. But one way or another, we're about to find out.