BOSTON -- Over the last few weeks, even as some of their top prospects have come wheeling up from Pawtucket, the Red Sox have held fast to the notion that they aren't out of contention just yet.
But depending on how the next two weeks play out, the picture could be painted pretty clearly one way or the other -- even more clearly than it is now, with the team 9 1/2 games out of first place in the division.
Of Boston's next 16 games, 13 will come against American League East opponents.
"We have some things a little bit in our control," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
The Sox did pick up some momentum during its series in Houston that led into the All-Star break. They've won four of their last five, which is their best five-game stretch since since they went 4-1 between May 29 and June 2. And in their last five games, the team scored 30 runs, a veritable explosion considering the drought it had undergone in series prior.
Its stars have played better, but Farrell credited some of the team's recent success to the contributions of its role players and young prospects who have helped steer the team in the right direction of late.
"With Mike Carp coming back to us, it gives us some further depth on the bench," Farrell said. "I think what Christian [Vazquez] has given, Christian along with Mookie [Betts], along with Jackie [Bradley Jr.], there's been an injection of additional energy to this team.
"We've played better. [But] I think it's still gonna start with who's on the mound in a given night and how they keep the game under control. That will be the case as we begin the second half."
Farrell admitted that the next handful of series could dictate which way the season is going to go, since the Red Sox have made it clear they haven't determined that already.
"It could," Farrell said. "We'll take each day at a time and we'll see where that lands us later this month."