Sox face long odds, but big streak is exactly what club needs to stay alive

·3 min read

Sep. 5—Coming into Sunday the Red Sox playoff odds were down to 0.4% according to Baseball America. FanGraphs doesn't give them much more of a chance at 1.1%, and with a 7.5-game deficit and four teams to jump in the American League Wild Card race the Red Sox are obviously in a really tough spot.

That being said, the Red Sox aren't mathematically eliminated either, and if the Red Sox hope to have any shot of climbing back into the hunt then stretches like this past week are exactly what they'll need.

The Red Sox completed a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers on Sunday, winning 5-2 to extend their win streak to five and get back within a game of .500 on the year. Trevor Story led the way by going 3 for 4 with a three-run home run, Xander Bogaerts also went 3 for 4 and the Red Sox bullpen pitched five scoreless innings to close out the victory.

"We're not giving up. We're still grinding, we're still playing," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "We're not getting too much help from around us but we didn't help ourselves for a while there. We'll play accordingly, take care of guys but at the same time just pay attention to what's going on and keep grinding."

We saw just last year how quickly things can change when a team gets hot in September. The St. Louis Cardinals came into the month 67-63 and three games out of the last playoff spot with three teams to jump. They proceeded to go 23-9 in September and October with a 17-game win streak, and when all was said and done they had a comfortable seven-game lead in the Wild Card race.

Go back a bit further and you'll also find the 2007 Colorado Rockies, who came into September fourth in the NL West at 69-65 only to finish 21-8 down the stretch, including a thrilling Game 163 win over San Diego to clinch the NL's Wild Card spot. They then swept their way through the first two rounds before a weeklong layoff ahead of the World Series blunted their momentum, contributing to the Red Sox four-game championship sweep.

This year's Red Sox are in a much deeper hole than either of those teams, but if the club can rip off 20 or more wins in September with a couple of long win streaks, they might just have a chance.

It doesn't hurt that the Red Sox still have six games left against Tampa Bay, seven against Baltimore, three against Toronto and six against the struggling New York Yankees, all of whom the Red Sox are chasing in the standings and against whom head-to-head wins would almost count double.

If the Red Sox can win this week's series against the Rays and Orioles they may look up next weekend dealing with a much more manageable four or five game deficit. If they can then beat the Yankees and do damage against Kansas City and Cincinnati, who knows what might be possible?

Of course, we said almost the exact same thing after the Pittsburgh series last month and the Red Sox wound up going 3-6 against the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays. Until this team proves otherwise there's no reason to expect these upcoming matchups should go any differently, but however unlikely the path is still there if the Red Sox can take advantage.

Email: mcerullo@northofboston.com. Twitter: @MacCerullo.