I'm not much of an artist, so I'm gonna have to ask you to work with me and use your imagination on this.
Two men stand by the side of the road in front of the flaming wreckage of what minutes before was likely a shiny new top-of-the-line race car. "Well, looks like we're out of this one," says one to the other as a couple run down cars and a pair of cyclists pass them by.
His companion turns to him, shocked, and asks "Are you kidding me? It's not like those guys are going very fast!"
In both 2012 and 2014, there was a point where it no longer seemed worthwhile to look at the standings. A point where it wasn't so much a question of what the Red Sox needed to do to turn things around this year, but what they needed to do to get back to winning in the next. At least for my money, it feels like we may have crossed that line Saturday night. Sometime in the fourth inning, to be precise.
Yeah, the Red Sox lost again. It's something they've done a lot of of late--five times in six games now since somehow managing to take a series off the Angels. Some of those losses have been close affairs, where one good bounce might have changed the story. Some have been blowouts, but the sort where it feels like the team was doomed from the moment the starting pitcher was listed and nothing the other 24 players could do would have stopped that.
Saturday was not one of those nights. It was total, absolute failure in every aspect of the game. It was a minor leaguer who had struggled against Triple-A hitting this year taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. It was Wade Miley failing to record an out in the fifth. And it was miserable defense from just about every position helping him on his way.
The fourth inning was the worst of it. Miley loaded up the bases on a walk and two hits, one of which would have been caught by a semi-competent left fielder, then gave up a ringing double over the head of Rusney Castillo. On the one hand, Castillo would've had a play had he not taken a terrible route to the ball. On the other, it was the sort of contact you can't expect an out on, with Miley simply lucky he even had a chance on it in the first place. The infield (Miley included) proceeded to botch a couple of plays at the plate on ground balls, and that was that. 5-0, Rangers.
The most you can say for Miley is that he wasn't as bad as the box score would suggest, but he wasn't good, or average. It was a 5 IP, 4 ER type of night rather than the 4 IP, 5 ER performance he ended up with. But that's still more than you can say for this team as a whole. The final score doesn't really cover just how bad they were tonight, and they lost 8-0!
In that regard, it's similar to the current state of the standings. The Red Sox are just 3.5 games behind the Yankees (either 3 or 4 by night's end), but that doesn't really encompass just how bad they are as a team. They can't hit, they can't field, and they've got maybe half a rotation. Hell, their record is still arguably inflated by games gifted them by opposing defenses early in the season.
The Yankees and Rays are barely chugging along. The Orioles and Jays are running on fumes But it doesn't matter.because the Red Sox are that flaming wreck by the side of the road. That 3.5 games back thing looks flimsy indeed when you consider that they're the only team in the division with a negative run differential, and that comes in at -47! There's a million cliches out there about miracles and nothing being over until the fat lady sings. But at this point that really is what it's going to take to save this team: a miracle. And miracles aren't worth planning around or really thinking about.