Xander Bogaerts, right, and Rafael Devers have been part of Boston’s potent offense in 2019, but the Red Sox pitching? Ugh. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

So far it’s been the year of the tease.

Remember when the Boston Red Sox overcame that lousy 6-13 start to the season by winning 16 of their next 22 games?

On their way to the top? No. Instead, Boston then went 7-10 and stumbled back into so-so land.

Then there was the sizzling July that began with a 14-7 record … to be followed by an eight-game losing streak – including four defeats to the Tampa Bay Rays, a team Boston continues to chase.

Heading into Saturday night’s game in Anaheim, the Red Sox are trying to make another run – winning 10 of 13.


This Red Sox team offers no proof that it can keep winning. Despite its $227 million payroll – compared to Tampa Bay’s $62 million – and an array of All-Stars, Boston has failed to make a meaningful push.

The Red Sox feature a fearsome foursome – Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez – that is the best quartet atop any lineup.

But the other foursome has faltered. The rotation is a wreck:

• Chris Sale (4.40 ERA) is out for the season with elbow trouble.

• David Price (4.36) last won a game on July 7 and has been on the injured list since Aug. 4. Price is due back Sunday, when his outing likely will be limited.

• Rick Porcello has a 5.42 ERA.

• Nathan Eovaldi was a reliever for a month after coming off the injured list. Back in the rotation, he’s made three starts, the longest lasting four innings.

The “fifth” starter, Eduardo Rodriguez has become the ace (16-5, 3.97).

The starting troubles have worn down the bullpen.

So when we ask if the Red Sox can put together a sustainable streak to vault them into the postseason, color it doubtful … but not completely out of the question.

Heading into Saturday, Boston was 5½ games behind Oakland for a playoff spot (with Tampa Bay also in the way, one game behind the A’s).

A sizable hurdle but other teams have pulled it off.

The most recent memory is a painful one for Boston fans. On Sept. 1, 2011, the Red Sox led the American League East by a half-game over the Yankees.

Regardless, Boston seemed playoff-bound with a nine-game lead over Tampa Bay, should the Red Sox have to settle for a wild-card spot.

But not only did New York vault past the Red Sox, so did Tampa Bay – going 17-9 in its last 26 games while Boston stumbled in at 7-19.

Going back a bit farther, the 1995 Seattle Mariners trailed the Los Angeles Angels by 6 1/2 games with 27 to go. Seattle went 18-9, the Angels 11-15, with the Mariners then beating the Angels in the tiebreaker game.

But Boston’s hurdle involves multiple teams.

In 1964, the St. Louis Cardinals were in third place, trailing the Phillies by 8 1/2 games and the Reds by two. In the stretch run, St. Louis went 19-8 to win the pennant as Philadelphia (10-18) faltered, and Cincinnati (16-11) couldn’t keep up.

The 2007 Colorado Rockies offer the brightest example of hope.

With 27 games to go, the Rockies had only the seventh-best record in the National League (69-66), with one wild-card spot available. The Rockies needed a remarkable run combined with the opposition crumbling. Colorado went 20-7 while San Diego (14-13), the Mets (13-14) and Dodgers (12-15) all tumbled. The Rockies beat the Padres in a tiebreaker and kept rolling until meeting pitcher Josh Beckett and the Red Sox in the World Series.

So Boston needs a surge, and two of the three other wild-card contenders to trip up.

Cleveland, which recently led the American League Central, is now contending for the first wild-card spot. After Friday’s loss in Tampa Bay, the Indians have gone 7-19. They lead Oakland by a half-game, Tampa Bay by one and Boston by six.

The Indians have a favorable schedule, although there are six games with division-leading Minnesota. Cleveland’s weakness is offense (10th in the American League in runs), but it features a league-leading ERA (3.62).

Tampa Bay, which is ninth in runs, looked ready to fade in July, but has the pitching (3.65 ERA) to remain ahead. Tampa Bay plays three games this week against Baltimore, and also has seven games against the Blue Jays. Its key homestand is Sept. 20-25 – four games with Boston, two with the Yankees.

Oakland is rolling. On June 8 the A’s were 32-33. Since then they are 46-23 with their longest losing streak three games (once). Oakland can score runs (fifth-best in the league) and pitch (4.06 ERA, fourth in the AL). The schedule is favorable with four games against Detroit and three against Kansas City.

Boston has the offense (third in runs) but it’s 4.65 ERA ranks seventh in the league. The pitching staff must reinvent itself quickly.

Two key parts of the schedule: this week’s homestand against Minnesota (three games) and the Yankees (four), and the four games later at Tampa Bay.

The Red Sox have no more time to tease.

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