So it's come down to this: the Red Sox will welcome the Baltimore Orioles into Fenway Park Monday...with their wild card berth on the line.
While nothing will be decided in the opening double-header, the fact is that the Sox do need to win these games. Not just to keep their record better than Tampa Bay's, but to prove that they can still beat teams they should beat.
The fact of the matter is that some of the past two weeks of pathetic baseball can be explained away by a rotation in shambles having to take on the likes of New York, Texas, and Tampa Bay over and over again. Throw in some 1-run losses, and you get a streak that's really worse than it seems.
Play poorly and lose the series against Baltimore, however, and we've got some serious trouble on our hands, regardless of who the Rays are playing.
So it is with bated breath that the Sox enter this crucial series, starting with a big, dangerous doubleheader.
Boston Red Sox (87-65) vs. Baltimore Orioles (62-89)
Monday, September 19, 1:05 p.m.
Kyle Weiland (0-2, 7.58 ERA) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (8-17, 4.22 ERA)
Monday, September 19, 7:10 p.m.
John Lackey (12-12, 6.19 ERA) vs. Brian Matusz (1-7, 9.84 ERA)
Tuesday, September 20, 7:10 p.m.
Erik Bedard (5-9, 3.50 ERA) vs. Rick VandenHurk (0-0, 6.00 ERA)
Wednesday, September 21, 7:10 p.m.
Josh Beckett (13-5, 2.50 ERA) vs. Tommy Hunter (4-4, 4.81 ERA)