So the Red Sox dropped 2 of 3 to the Yankees and, for all intents and purposes, said goodbye to any chance of taking the AL East division title this season.
And with 39 games to go in the regular season, it's all about the following numbers -- 1, 6, 20, 22.
1 - The Wild Card standings currently have the Sawx sporting a one-game lead over the Rangers. The Sawx currently have a 2-7 record against the Rangers, who just dropped 2 of 3 against the Rays, the other serious Wild card contender. Which brings us to...
6 - That's the number of games the Sawx have remaining against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sawx have posted a 4-8 mark against the Rays this season, looking old and slow against the youthful Rays. The six games are split evenly - 3 in Boston, 3 in Tampa - and that bears watching, as the Sawx have gone 3-3 vs. the Rays at home, but 1-5 at the Trop. At the very least, they need to hold serve against the Rays at Fenway and try and steal two games at Tampa. FYI - the Rays are 3 games back of the Sawx in the Wild Card standings.
20 - At 70-53, the Sawx have 39 games left, of which 20 (slightly more than half for you math majors out there) are against teams with winning records. Eleven of those games are at Fenway, where the Sawx are 39-20 (vs. 31-33 on the road).
22 - Of those 39 remaining games, 22 are at home. The Sawx need to take advantage of this advantage and win these home games, especially since they finish the season with 7 games at home vs. the under-achieving Blue Jays and Indians, both of whom should be well into "playing for next year" mode by the end of September.
Before I sign off, a quick note on last night's 8-4 homer-happy loss to the Yankees last night. After both Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui hit Josh Beckett's first-pitch fastball home runs to start the first and second innings, respectively, I turned to Mrs. Wikked Hahd and said "I guess the Yanks plan is look first-pitch fastball for tonight"...
Come to find out that indeed was the case, as almost all of the Yankees homers on Sunday came on first-pitch fastballs and two-strike curveballs - Buster Olney on ESPN.com pointed that out here (scroll down to the "Sunday's Games" segment). So why could I see that but Beckett, Jason Varitek, Terry Francona and John Farrell couldn't? Is it because of Beckett's legendary stubborness? Or is he due for some pounding after being so brilliant for so long? He insists he's healthy and has no physical issues, so it could just be a blip.
Either way, it's never a good sign when I can see what's going on from my couch better than the Sawx from the field.