Red Sox

Red Sox

One half of one game.

You want to understand why the Red Sox face a near impossible task when it comes to reaching the postseason, that number pretty much says it all.

At the conclusion of a post-deadline eight-game losing streak in August, the Red Sox trailed the A's by six games in the wild card race. They have since won 12 of 19 with some of their best baseball of the season.

And do you know how many games they've made up during that span?

One half of one game.

OK, you might ask, but how much ground have they covered in the last two weeks, with nine wins in 12 games? Surely they've closed the gap significantly, right?

Think again. When that stretch started, they trailed Oakland by six games. As they prepare to open a three-game series in Anaheim on Friday, they trail the A's by 5.5 games. That means, during their most inspiring stretch of the year, they have made up exactly . . .

One half of one game.

You can see how the math fails to work in their favor. At this rate, they'll catch Oakland in 132 games. Unfortunately, it is not early May. Only 28 contests remain.

This is the challenge of overtaking multiple teams in the standings. While it's true that the Red Sox have closed the gap on the Indians and Rays over the last month, they remain seven games behind the former and 4.5 behind the latter. Catching only one of them means nothing.

That's how, until their current six-game losing streak, the Mets could surge for most of July and August and still find themselves perpetually two or three games out of the wild card. Have one bad week, though, and the deficit doubles. Now they need to leapfrog four teams, which means their season is over.

 

For the Red Sox to reach October, they'll need not only to maintain a pace that has eluded them all season, they'll need to do it with only one reliable starter (Eduardo Rodriguez), one semi-reliable one (Rick Porcello), and a schedule that is about to turn unfavorable.

They've been able to bullpen their way to a dozen recent wins thanks in part to a quirk that has seen them play with two off-days a week since mid-August. That stretch ends Monday. From that point forward, the Red Sox will have just two days off the rest of the season. There will be no built-in rest for their best relievers, and while expanded rosters will help, let's not forget that most of these guys were in Triple-A for a reason.

So don't be fooled. The Red Sox have basically run out of time to make a run. Chopping a half game off their wild card deficit every couple of weeks isn't going to get it done.

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