Things got bad when the Red Sox lost Kevin Youkilis for the season. Things got worse when they lost Jacoby Ellsbury. But could the recent loss of Dustin Pedroia be the blow that cripples the Red Sox' playoff chances?
For a team that's been resilient all year in the face of a never-ending string of injuries, the loss of Pedroia, for what could very well be the season, may be the toughest to overcome.
Pedroia went on the 15-day disabled list on Friday, but his return for the rest of the season is questionable. If he does return, it will obviously be good news — not only the simple fact that his bat, glove, speed and grit will be back in the lineup, but rather, his return would signify life in the hunt for the playoffs.
You would have to think that if the Red Sox fall even further out of the playoff race in the two weeks without their All-Star second baseman, they'd tell him to take the rest of the season off and heal completely for 2011.
That being said, the Red Sox are about to enter the most important two-week stretch of the season. They've got a big weekend series with the Rays, who are currently tied with the Yankees for first place, coming up before heading to Baltimore for three with the Orioles.
Those contests provide the Red Sox with the opportunity to gain ground on the Rays and Yankees, but do they have enough firepower without Pedroia to do so?
Sure, they've done it for much of the year without him, but the blow of losing a player like Pedroia after such a highly anticipated return could be tough for a team to overcome.
Maybe they have enough to sustain their playoff push even without Pedroia. Jed Lowrie's walkoff home run on Saturday night could be the moment that ignites a strong push for the postseason. Even Bill Hall has given the Red Sox some strong performances while quietly amassing 17 home runs and 40 RBIs on the season while filling in for Pedroia.
Despite trailing in the playoff races, the Red Sox have continued to hang around throughout all of the injury-related turmoil that's been saddled upon them this season. But to lose a player like Pedroia — the heart and soul of the ballclub — especially if it were to be for the rest of the season, could be back-breaking.
So, can the Red Sox continue to make a playoff push even without Dustin Pedroia?
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