Have the Red Sox ever needed a mid-summer break this badly?  The All-Star break is here and most of the Sox will rest up and recover after a road trip spanning more than 7,700 miles took them into the break.

The wear and tear of the road didn’t seem to take too much out of Boston. After giving up a staggering 29 runs in two ugly losses to the Yankees in London the Sox bounced back with a 5-1 swing through Toronto and Detroit. That left them a season-high eight games above .500 at the break, with 90 games played and 72 to go.

When play resumes this Friday, the Red Sox will have to establish some sort of home-field advantage. Fenway has been anything but friendly to Alex Cora’s team so far. The Sox are technically two games under .500 at home this season, but that includes the two “home” losses at London Stadium.

Still, the Sox have not been good enough at Fenway Park. At 20-20, they’re the only team in the American League that is above .500 overall but doesn’t have a winning record at home. They’re two games out of making the postseason (as the second Wild Card in the AL) and need to win games at Fenway to make any sort of move.

And they’ll need to do it soon. The Sox open a seven-game home stand on Friday, beginning a stretch that has them playing 21 of 31 games in Boston. If they don’t have a winning record over that timespan it’ll be awfully hard to make a push for the playoffs with just 41 games remaining.

“We need to be a lot better (at home),” said Red Sox Manager Alex Cora during the last home stand.  “This is a place we have to take advantage of and we’re not doing that.”

Cora is hoping the break will give his team a chance to recover its mojo, at home and on the road. Even though Cora didn’t have a break – he was managing the American League All-Stars in Cleveland – a respite from the grind of a baseball schedule is always welcome. On the heels of a three-country, transatlantic road trip, it’s desperately needed.

“I think everybody in here is ready for this break and needs this break,” David Price told reporters Sunday after picking up the 150th win of his career. “We need these four days off.”

They also need help in the bullpen. Cora surprised a lot of people last week when he made the decision to move Nathan Eovaldi to the closer’s role.  Some looked at that as a panic move, but in reality it gives the Sox a chance to solidify what has become the team’s biggest concern.

The closer-by-committee has not worked. Giving Eovaldi a shot at being a traditional closer will give them a hard-throwing arm in the back end of the bullpen who has proven to be fearless in relief in the past.

Additionally, it will allow pitchers like Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to slot into more traditional setup roles. One of the team’s biggest concerns about Barnes is that he has been pitching to the heart of the order. Every night. No relief pitcher has been asked to do that for an entire season. Even the best closers get to face the back end of the lineup with a three-run lead once in awhile. Not Barnes in 2019. He’s been used to facing each team’s best hitters whenever they come up in late-game situations. The role has taken its toll on him.

Not all the blame for the disappointing first half can be placed on the bullpen. This team was built on the idea that it had the best rotation in the league. It hasn’t. Price has been the team’s most consistent starter while Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello have struggled.

And with Eovaldi in the bullpen the team doesn’t have a certified fifth starter. That might be something Dombrowski addresses before the July 31 trade deadline.

That is now just over three weeks away. Between now and then the Sox will play 18 games in 19 days. It all begins Friday at Fenway against the Dodgers in a rematch of the 2018 World Series.

The Sox had home-field advantage in that series and won. They’ll need to beat L.A. and begin to rebuild that advantage at Fenway.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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