With the Red Sox on Wednesday it was nearly instantaneous.
In the abbreviated afterglow of their 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners in the opener of a day-night doubleheader, the Sox were hit with a string of haymakers that caused a promising occasion to fall flat.
It all started when they were forced at the last second to shuffle their rotation. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was slated to go Friday in Tampa Bay, was scratched from that start with a sore back, prompting manager Terry Francona to bump Wednesday’s scheduled starter, Jon Lester, to Friday and install Tim Wakefield on extremely short notice.
When Wakefield had a throwing error on the first play of the game, a miscue that eventually led to a run, a little more air was let out of the balloon.
When both third baseman Adrian Beltre and Francona were ejected for reasons beyond comprehension in the third, it was another punch in the gut.
Finally, as Mariners ace Felix Hernandez began to settle in, the positive vibes of the matinee win had all but vanished.
And so, just hours after they had carved a half-game off their deficit behind New York and Tampa Bay, the Red Sox were back to where they started and enter a big three-game set with the Rays on a negative note.
Desperation has yet to settle in, but it’s creeping closer.
"We have to go to Tampa and at least win the series," Beltre said. "We are trying to go in there and maybe looking for a sweep so we can get a better chance."
The Rays and Yankees are tied atop the American League East, 5 1/2 games ahead of Boston, which has six games remaining against both teams. Essentially, the Red Sox still control their own destiny. With that in mind they can continue to focus on chipping away, one game at a time.
"Play good Friday," Francona said when asked what his team needs to do this weekend. "That’s always the case. That never changes. You start looking to Sunday and Monday, that would be a mistake."
With a win Friday, Francona’s bunch will certainly feel better about itself. Unlike Wednesday, the positivity at least has a chance of carrying over into the next day.
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