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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox open their final homestand of the 2011 season Tuesday night in a state of panic.
Or at least David Ortiz is panicking.
“At this point you panic hell yeah,” Ortiz said after the Red Sox got swept by the Tampa Bay Rays, finishing their road trip with a 1-6 record. “You have to panic at this point. But you’re not going to do anything panicking. You have to play better.”
Boston has dropped five straight and lost nine of their 11 games to start September. Their six-and-half game lead in the Wild Card standings is now down to just three, with the Rays coming to town for four games starting on Thursday.
While the Red Sox are feeling the urgency, some are not ready to panic like Ortiz.
“I’m not really concerned; if we play good, we win,” said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “We’re a pretty damn good team; we’ve just hit a rough patch.”
“I don’t think the team is tight in a sense. I don’t think we’re looking back. We’re frustrated with the way the road trip went, the last 10 games especially,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “We just have to go out there and continue what we’ve been doing, which is play one game at a time.”
“We’re kind of in a fight right now; we know that. It’s not real pretty,” said Manager Terry Francona. “The last thing those guys need to see is me with my tail between my legs; that’s not going to help. We’ll come out and fight, play better Tuesday. If not, we’ll play better Wednesday. I always feel like we’re going to play well and if we don’t we’ll fix it.”
“If we don’t, we’re going to go home,” said Pedroia. “That’s basically it. We don’t play well, we go home.”
“We keep on playing like that we’ll be at home in October,” added Ortiz.
Pedroia is hitting just .115 the past week, going three-for-26 with eight strikeouts. The Offense is not the problem though, with the bullpen blowing leads and poor fielding and base running contributing to the slump.
Set-up man Daniel Bard had an awful week, going 0-2 while allowing six runs in 1.1 innings pitched.
“You come in in situations like that when the game is on the line, just baseball in general, things like that happe,” said Sox pitching coach Curt Young. “Daniel has been so good for us, his stuff is great. We’re going to count on him every time we get in that situation.”
The stretch is reminiscent to Boston’s awful start of the season, when they began 0-6 and won just two of their first 12 games.
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That stretch is in the past thought.
“That was a long time ago. We’re trying to finish strong,” said Pedroia. “We’re not looking back at the start of the year; we got our butts kicked back then. At least we’re competitive.”
While they may be competitive, no one will care if they are sitting home when October rolls around.
Boston begins a nine game homestand on Tuesday with Toronto in town for three games, the Rays for four, and they close their 2011 home schedule with three games against the Orioles.