With a series against the Yankees, the pressure is only mounting for the Red Sox. They'll likely need the Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Athletics and/or Angels to collapse –– like what Boston suffered last September –– in order to make the playoffs.
As the cards unfold for the club, let's take a look at this week's mailbag.
Is the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry as exciting if one team isn't in the playoff mix? — Will Hampson, Ellington, CT
It's not as exciting as if it were for first place in the division, but it's always going to be intriguing. That said, the reality is this weekend's series lacks luster, considering the Red Sox entered Friday's game 12 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East.
Even if the Red Sox were to win the series, it wouldn't make too much of a difference. If it did, it'd only affect the wild card standings
In recent weeks, the tension between Red Sox reliever Vicente Padilla and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira escalated the friction between Boston and New York and made the rivalry some must-see TV.
But with Padilla on the disabled list and the Yankees taking precautions with Teixeira –– who is battling a wrist injury –– this weekend's series lost the marquee attraction.
Unless some fireworks start with other players, the excitement in the rivalry, for now, has taken a slight nosedive.
What is the normal hierarchy in terms of going up the chain of command in a functional organization? To me it would seem inappropriate to bring up issues further upstream than the GM. I think a strong GM would bring issues up the line to others. — Armon Sports, New York
Typically, I think you'd want to confront your manager, express your dissatisfaction with the situation and attempt to work toward rectifying the problem as best as possible.
If that doesn't work –– or the bridge is that burned from the beginning –– then I'd say it depends on the person's relationship with the front office or ownership. Some players also elect to use their agents as the liaisons to air out issues about the team.
As for your point about the general manager, keep in mind that Ben Cherington is still in his first season as GM. But for all we know, maybe he played an instrumental role in setting up the meeting with management.
Either way, players and ownership are publicly contending this was an annual meeting the team organizes to discuss the state of affairs within the organization, so it's possible the players used the platform to discuss their concerns.
Any sign of Daniel Bard being recalled anytime soon? — @Gazza1978, via Twitter
Before Daniel Bard's appearance in Thursday's Triple-A game, I would have assumed there would've been a strong chance. In recent weeks, Valentine said that Bard was getting "close" to a promotion.
But in his last two outings, Bard has thrown more balls than strikes. His appearance in the seventh inning of Thursday's game against the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate showed a regression as he walked two batters, beaned one and allowed a hit.
All in all, it resulted in three unearned runs, which were also attributed to two errors in the inning. Bard will need to turn it around –– and turn it around fast –– if he wants a call up and the chance to help the Red Sox collect some wins.
What do you think the Red Sox will do this offseason to make sure a year like this doesn't happen again? — Matthew Forest, via Facebook
It's hard to envision the core of this team being shipped away, but I anticipate the front office will attempt to trade some players.
At the trade deadline, the Red Sox were reportedly in discussions to trade Josh Beckett to the Rangers. That scenario could re-surface once again in the offseason, but certainly a chunk of attention will surround Valentine's future as the team's manager.
The team offered the skipper a vote of confidence for the rest of the 2012 season, but the future is unknown after that.