USA Today Sports

Red Sox starting to realize crunch time is upon them

Rob Bradford
August 31, 2018 - 1:25 am

CHICAGO -- Rick Porcello might not have had the Red Sox' best performance in their 9-4 win over the White Sox Thursday night, but he did have the most enlightening quote after his club's 93rd win. (For a complete recap of the Red Sox' latest win, click here.)

"We’re aware that we have 27 games left. I think that series in Tampa maybe woke us up a little bit and we understand even with whatever lead we have against New York we still have a bunch of games with them and we play some really good teams in September," he said. "There is no time to rest or relax or anything like that. We have to continue to push and hopefully close out this division and get into the postseason."

The baseball calendar is about to flip for the Red Sox. That is a reality they have clearly woken up to.

They might have already equaled their win total from a year ago (93) while building the lead in the American League East back up to 8 1/2 games over the Yankees. That is all well and good. Been there done that. What hasn't been prevalent is the feeling of August turning into September, knowing these are the tools you're going to be working with for the rest of the way.

There isn't going to be that Justin Verlander-like infusion Houston got a year ago. In fact, it would be fairly surprising if any player of semi-significance is headed to the Red Sox' roster thanks to the massive amount of waiver-claiming going on leading into the final trade deadline.

The Red Sox seem OK with that.

Cora's team is clearly hyper-focused on their good and bad, as was evident by the vast majority of participants in the visitors' clubhouse not having any idea that the Yankees had acquired Andrew McCutchen from the Giants following the series-opening win. Not only didn't most of them know, but few seemed to care when told. (And those who did only raised an eyebrow because of the question it presented regarding Aaron Judge's health.)

This might have been a game against a White Sox team 28 games under .500, but it represented a chance to prove last weekend's doldrums were not going to leak into the season's final month.

There are still plenty of questions, some of which were pushed a bit further to the side Thursday night thanks to solid relief outings from Brandon Workman, Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier and Heath Hembree. And the inability to snag some more certainty prior to the trade deadline might make all these good intentions less meaningful.

But at least there is an acknowledgment. A new season is just about upon us.

"Everybody's locked in. Everybody knows where we're at. September 1st is coming," Cora said. "I know August is a tough month for everybody but for some reason when that day comes everybody kind of recharges and resets and it seems like they did it earlier than usual. Mentally they've been playing good baseball the last three days offensively, they're locked in and hopefully, we can ride this on this road trip then go home and see where we're at."