Nearly a week has passed since the Lost Weekend. A weekend that saw the Sox go from 1 out to 6 games back of the Yankees in a 75-hour span. A weekend that saw the hated Yankees walk out of Fenway Park with their heads held high and the biggest lead they’ve held over Boston in nearly two years.

You watched it. You were disgusted. You choked down your anger.

And you were not alone.

“It was very tough to watch,” said General Manager Theo Epstein. “It’s something we never want to go through again. At the same time, it’s equally important how we respond to it. Everyone gets knocked down in life. It’s what you do afterwards.”

Red Sox pitching has been abysmal. You don’t win championships with an ERA of 4.83 – 11th in the American League. That’s where the Sox stood after their six-game losing streak. At that point, Sox starters had just five wins in the month and were 5-12 in the previous 25 starts. The bullpen hadn’t provided much relief, posting a 6.18 ERA in that span.

“We really regressed in August,” said Epstein. “There are a lot of guys on our staff pitching as bad as they can, pitching the worst baseball of the year at the wrong time.”

At the trade deadline, Epstein vowed the team wouldn’t alter its long-term plan to react to the moves made by the Yankees. After watching Bobby Abreu destroy Sox pitching over the long weekend, it was hard not have a reaction to what New York did.

The Sox believe they are building a young pitching staff that will compete every year. Are they concerned about the mental toll a late-season collapse could have on the young guns?

“I don’t think we’re anywhere near that point,” said Epstein. “On the contrary, I think some of these lumps we’re taking are going to be good in the long run for their development.

“This is how young pitchers get better. They go through ups – and there have been plenty of ups, they were carrying this team – and they go through downs.”

It’s been a long time since Red Sox Nation has been this down. There are 36 games left in the season, and if it will take 95 wins to make the playoffs the Sox will need to go 25-11 the rest of the way. The way they’ve been playing, it’s hard to imagine that happening. Yet, it’s just as important that this team fight to the end of the schedule.

“It’s easy to be a good citizen, a good teammate, a good leader when things are going great,” said Epstein. “It’s certainly more difficult in the most difficult of times.

“We have to represent the organization the right way. We’re here to win. We’re not here to fall apart under pressure. No one wants to see this turn into September of 2001. I don’t think, based on the character of this clubhouse, that there’s a remote chance of that happening.”

Those words didn’t do a lot to reassure Red Sox Nation, a fandom still reeling from the longest winning streak since September of 2001.

That losing streak is over, but the questions remain. The Sox are barely above .500 against American League competition this season. That’s not good enough for a team that wants to contend for an AL pennant.

Lewiston native Tom Caron is a NESN analyst for Red Sox and Bruins telecasts.


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