By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Without dramatically overstating things, the Red Sox are at a bit of a crossroads.READ MORE: Revs Beat Orlando City 2-1, Extend Unbeaten Streak
They sat in first place a week ago, had an underwhelming trade deadline day, and then got swept away by the Rays in Tampa. Coming off a 13-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday, the Red Sox now have lost four straight games for the first time all season.
After seeing every team chasing them in the division invest heavily in improving their roster, the Red Sox — who did add the injured Kyle Schwarber but didn’t improve their team right away — the Red Sox had their flattest weekend since the opening series of the season.
They’re now 1.5 games behind the Rays. While they’re still somewhat comfortably ahead of the Yankees (by 5.5 games) and Blue Jays (6.5 games), that figures to change quickly, too, if this slide continues any further.
Manager Alex Cora, though, isn’t concerned in the least about the current trends.
“I mean, we lost four in a row, and they’re playing good. Earlier in the season, we were playing good and they sucked. So it’s part of baseball,” Cora said after Sunday night’s 3-2 loss in Tampa, which dropped Boston to 4-5 vs. the Rays this season. “It’s 162 games. You gotta stay the course.”
Cora himself referred back to that opening weekend, when his team was swept by the Orioles.READ MORE: Stanton's Slam Lifts Yanks To 5-3 Win, WC Tie With Red Sox
“I mean, we’ve done it the whole season. We were 0-3 and out of the race after the third game of the season,” Cora said. “It’s just four games. And we know that. It’s just kind of like winning nine games in a row. It’s the same thing. You’re gonna get hot, you’re gonna go through stretches like this. … We still have a good team. Like I said after the third game of the season, I still like our team.”
For what it’s worth, in the four most recent World Series-winning seasons for the Red Sox, the longest losing streak was five games in 2004. The ’07 team had a four-game losing streak, while the 2013 and 2018 clubs’ longest losing-streak was just three games.
That doesn’t necessarily mean much of anything, but it does provide some perspective that the Red Sox won’t want this streak to grow any larger.
As for this year’s teams, losing streaks have been shaken off fairly well. After dropping the first three games of the season, the Red Sox rattled off nine straight wins. After three straight losses in early May, Boston won its next three and seven of their next nine. After losing three straight to start a four-game set in Houston, the Red Sox won five straight.
There is some relief on the way, too, in the form of a series at home against the the 51-57 Detroit Tigers. That will be followed, though, by a four-game series in Toronto, followed by three more games vs. the Rays at Fenway. After a weekend vs. the Orioles (37-67, worst team in AL), the Red Sox will head to the Bronx for three vs. the Yankees.
It’s not exactly a do-or-die, must-win situation. As Cora noted, there’s a long way to go, and a season will always have surges — good and bad. But given the additions made around the division and the renewed sense of belief that accompanies those moves, the key for the Red Sox in the coming days will be simple: stabilize.MORE NEWS: Boston College Beats Mizzou 41-34 In OT
“Right now we’re in a position, we’re in second place in the division, we didn’t like what happened this weekend, but it’s part of it. [The Rays] went on a roll for a month and a half, they won like 25 out of 28 games and we haven’t played extremely well, and we’re still here,” Cora said. “So obviously we don’t like losing and we want to be more consistent, but it’s not — you know, I mean, it’s just part of the season.”