On May 26, the Red Sox had just finished sweeping the Rays, putting them 5.5 games back in the AL East, and only two games back of the Yankees. Ahead of them lay the easiest portion of their schedule all year: a fourteen game "break" against the Royals, Athletics, Orioles and Indians.
Two weeks later, and the Red Sox have gone 8-5 with one more contest to go against Cleveland. Good, but not great. Alarmingly, the difference between them and the Rays has shrunk by only half a game, while the Yankees have actually managed to widen their lead by a game.
It's hard to be down on a team for playing better than .600 ball, but when it comes right down to it that's not enough against primarily cellar dwellers (when the rest of your schedule is made up half of games against the Rays, Jays and Yankees, and this year half of horrible, horrible trips to the West).
Boston is 3-4 against the Rays this year, and 3-5 against the Yankees. Neither of those are good numbers, but they're around the .500 you might expect to see against opponents like them. The number that really hurts: 4-5 against the Orioles. The 2009 Red Sox went 16-2 against Baltimore.
The Red Sox have their fair share of games left against bad teams to make up for this lukewarm beginning. Three against Arizona, nine more against Baltimore, seven against Seattle, seven against Chicago and five more against Cleveland, including tonight's game. These are the opponents that the Sox have to really boost their record against. Not just winning series, not playing .600 ball--these are the opponents the Sox need to decimate, because they can't depend on doing the same to the rest of their competition.