BOSTON - As the Red Sox continue to circle the drain, there's an expectation -- inside the organization, if not out -- that things will eventually get better.
They just can't be this bad, can they?
That's the message sent by general manager Ben Cherington on Tuesday, who made the point that the best route back to contention would be for the current regulars to perform as expected.
"We believe that we have a very good team ahead of us this year," said Cherington, "and most of that is going to come from within, with guys here performing and getting back to a level they're accustomed to.''
Manager John Farrell echoed the same thoughts Wednesday night in the wake of another inept offensive showing that saw the Sox get shutout for the second time in 48 hours and limited to one run in 27 innings.
Farrell noted that he had already tried a half-dozen leadoff hitters, re-arranged the 2-3-4 pairings and seemed to be scratching for solutions as futilely as his team has battled to score runs.
"I’m not at the point of pulling something out of a hat for a lineup, I can tell you that,'' said Farrell. "But we’ve got to trust in the players that we have and continue to work through this.”
There are no easy answers. Brock Holt has been a pleasant surprise and forced his way into an everyday presence in the lineup. But there's not much else in the way of additional alternatives.
Mookie Betts? Not yet. Shane Victorino? Probably 10 days away, with no guarantee that he can remain healthy and on the field when he does return.
And even if the Sox had position players hitting the proverbial cover off the ball at Pawtucket, that, too would come with a caveat: they would probably struggle in the big leagues, just as more advanced players such as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts have.
Trades? Cherington left the distinct impression that anything significant is probably a month away. Making trades in June is as difficult as it is dangerous. Convincing a team to make a major move six weeks before the deadline is usually tantamount to an overpay.
The Red Sox have enough of an inventory of prospects -- especially on the pitching side -- to make a deal or two of significance when the dealing begins in earnest. They could package a starter (Anthony Ranaudo?) a position player (Garin Cecchini?) and some less-advanced prospects and expect a decent return, perhaps even the impact bat that they so desperately need.
But, again, time is not on the Red Sox' side.
Starting Thursday night, the beginning of a seven-game homestand, the Red Sox have to start hitting and, as the song says, stop wasting their summer, waiting for a savior to rise from these streets.
The cavalry is not going to save this bunch.
The turnaround has to come from the likes of Dustin Pedroia, the No. 3 hitter who has displayed an alarming dropoff. Pedroia is slugging a career-worst .380 and is batting just .214 with runners in scoring position. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Pedroia is a horrid 2-for-33.
It's likely that Pedroia is playing with wrist injury that has severely limited his swing. That's not an excuse as much as it is a fact. And like Pedroia's thumb injury in 2013, it's not likely to get better as the season drags on.
David Ortiz's numbers are at least respectable. But since nearly demolishing Target Field in Minneapolis in early May, the slugger has been perfecftly pedestrian, with four extra-base hits in the past 25 games and an OPS of .576.
It's on Pedroia and Ortiz to do what highly-paid, stars do: carry the team, or at the very least, keep the Sox close enough to warrant an investment by the front office in July.
If they don't, it's likely the trade deadline will, like the cavalry, arrive too late to make a difference.