By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
NEW YORK -- NEW YORK -- After 16 losses in 21 games to start the month of September, the Red Sox are hanging on to the wild card lead by the slimmest of margins and with six games to go, are guaranteed nothing.
But Theo Epstein, the Red Sox embattled GM, isn't trying to make anyone feel sorry for the club.
"It's on us to turn this thing around,'' said Epstein before the Red Sox and Yankees got rained out Friday night. "We don't have any excuses. We don't have an excuse in the
world. It's time to step up and show what we're made of. This is a stretch of disappointing play and we own that. We can't run away from that.
"It's certainly not too late. We're fortunate in a sense that we can wake up and play one good week of baseball and then have a great opportunity in the post-season. It's time to do it, though.''
With two series left to play, Epstein believes the Red Sox have it in them, just as they were able to overcome the team's 2-10 start in April which nearly torpedoed the season.
"We played, whatever it was, close to .700 ball for four months,'' he said. "And now we're having a real rough September. It's in there. We've pulled ourselves out of this before. We just have to do it in a hurry.
"We've talked about in the clubhouse and we've talked about it with the players and they feel the same way. It's what happens after you get knocked on your ass that matters. Everone gets knocked on their ass. We were on our ass in April and our players dug deep.''
Epstein wouldn't react to comments made Thursday by Brian Cashman, who indicated that he had feigned interest in free agent Carl Crawford in an effort to drive up the player's asking price with Boston.
"I'm not going to address any of that,'' said Epstein. "Our focus is right here on the field. A lot of things happened over the winter and things were said about what happened over the winter. The Yankees weren't really a factor for us anyway, but we're going to keep the focus on the field.''
Of Crawford's disappointing season, Esptein said: "It's hard to explain why. Obviously, if you could pinpoint why it happened, someone would've done something to address it by now.
"But I'll say this: (Crawford) has never stopped working his tail off. He's never stepped fighting. And he's shown accountability, taken responsibility for the year's he had.
That's a great sign and a great indication that he's going to bounce back from this.''
Clay Buchholz threw a simulated game Friday afternoon in the indoor batting cages.
"I felt fine. Obviously its a little messed up throwing indoors. It doesnt feel the same. But my body felt good so thats all we were looking for.
Buchholz, who's been sidelined since the end of June with a stress fracture of the lower back, threw 17 pitches to hitters who didn't swing, then followed that with a 23-pitch session with hitters taking swings.
"He looked really good," reported Francona. "He threw the ball well and stayed in his delivery."
Buchholz will have a down day Saturday and the Sox will go from there in determining what's next, but Francona said it's possible the next step will be to pitch in a game.
He added: "I can't imagine that happening before Monday in Baltimore."
With the season winding down, there isn't much time for Buchholz to get the game-action he would need to pitch again for Boston.
"Thats the tough spot here. Im sure they wouldnt want to activate me without seeing live hitters in live games. I think thats the one thing in the situation is trying to speed up everything and make sure Im ready to go into a game and everything feels good in a game. like I said, thats sort of where were at with that.
As of now, there schedule for Buchholz is still uncertain.
"I don't know. Thats what were going to have to talk about. like I said before, not throwing for three months and then throwing twice and being in a major league game might be a little difficult. Whatever, well have to see what happens from here.