I knew a brick wall was coming. I just knew it. It was unavoidable.
It doesn’t matter how good this Red Sox team is, or any team is. You can’t cruise through a six-month, 162-game season, plus the postseason, without any turmoil. You just can’t do it. It’s not feasible and it will never be done.
I feel like I’ve been saying it all season long, but definitely since mid-July when the Sox started to pull away from the Yankees and it seemed like they just couldn’t lose: at some point or another, before this is all said and done, they are going to sprint head first into a brick wall. It’s just a matter of time. I was just praying that it doesn’t happen in October.
The Red Sox have officially hit said brick wall here in the final week of August. Last week, after they dropped back-to-back games – prior to this week, a rare occurrence in 2018 – I wrote that a two-game losing streak could be classified as a “slump” for this Sox team. But now, that “slump” has actually turned into an actual full-blown slump. Getting swept by the Rays in a three-game series at Tropicana Field (the first time they’ve been swept all year, amazingly) officially sealed the deal. The Red Sox have lost six of their last eight games, and their lead over the Yankees in the AL East has dwindled down to six games. Just a few short weeks ago, it was at 10.5.
It seemed like the division was wrapped up weeks ago, but it wasn’t. After being swept at Fenway Park at the beginning of August, the Yankees have stormed back to win 16 of their last 20 games. While the Sox were being outscored by the Rays 24-5 in three games, the Yankees were quickly narrowing that gap. The AL East title is far from secure, and it’s time to start worrying that Boston might just let it slip away. They only have six games of wiggle room to work with right now and still over a month of season left, not to mention two more meetings with the Yankees.
If they don’t hang on to win the division, it will be an epic collapse to go right up there alongside 2011 and 1978. “Catastrophic” wouldn’t even be an accurate enough word to describe it. But we’re still a bit away from that level of worry.
When Chris Sale was sent back to the disabled list again, it almost felt like a relief. Giving him a pair of 10-day periods away from pitching is a pretty good way to rest that arm up for the playoffs so that he doesn’t endure a meltdown like he did last October. But if the Red Sox keep losing and the Yankees keep winning, he might have to get rushed back into action and actually pitch deep into games. We were hoping Sale wouldn’t actually be needed again until the playoffs, but he just might be.
But even if Sale does get back into the rotation regularly, it won’t do any good unless the Red Sox start hitting again, something they seem to have completely forgotten how to do. In the first two months of the season, J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts were competing with each other for the MLB home run lead. Now the Sox are getting outscored 24-5 by the Rays. For the time being, the mighty have certainly fallen. Hopefully it’s just temporary.
The Red Sox have a six-game gap to work with. If they are as good of a team as we’ve built them up to be over the last five months, they will snap out of this funk sooner rather than later and wrap the AL East up once and for all. But right now, the Yankees are rumbling and the Sox are bumbling.
It’s time to be a little concerned.