And yet, the Red Sox clubhouse remains optimistic, and the Rays are aware that this team can be back in the thick of things in the blink of an eye. Or in some cases, a series sweep.
"We all know in here that before all is said and done, Boston is going to be there, which makes our meetings against them very important," Rays ace James Shields told The Boston Globe.
The Rays already own an early regular season series lead after they swept a four-game set from April 16-19. The teams' second battle kicks off Monday night at 7:10 p.m. with Clay Buchholz and Wade Davis.
Despite the rocky start against the AL East leaders, with 14 more meetings to go, nothing has been decided yet. After all, the Yankees started off 0-8 against the Sox before tying the series at nine apiece by the end of the regular season.
“People, I think, are ruling out Boston," Rays star Carl Crawford added. "No way. Boston is tough. Those guys can really pitch and they can really play. You take them for granted, you’re crazy."
Perhaps the Red Sox can take inspiration from their 2007 World Series opponent in their own quest for first place. The Rockies were 20-32 on June 3, 2009 and 15 1/2 games out of first place but the club ended up winning 92 games, finishing three games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and grabbing a wild-card berth.
Sure, what the Rockies did is rare, but certainly not impossible. If the Sox can't defeat the odds and take down the Rays, there's always the wild card — Boston is just three out for the lead there.
So can the Red Sox catch the Rays?
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