I was wrong. I thought a week and a half ago was the turning point for the Boston Red Sox.

That’s when touted prospect Michael Chavis was called up, and the Red Sox went up against a rolling Tampa Bay team and swept the series. There was new blood in the locker room, the Sox took all three games and there were fist-pumps and wide smiles from everyone on the field.

Here we go, their expressions seemed to say. We’re back.

Nope. Instead, that’s been a constant narrative throughout this oddly slow start for the Red Sox. Boston was 12-17 entering play Tuesday night, and throughout those 29 games there were signs over and over again that the Red Sox were turning the corner, only to be followed by another reminder that they’re still feeling around in the dark.

With that being said, it isn’t time to panic yet. Even the conservative deadline of Mother’s Day to know what you truly have for a baseball team is still almost two weeks away. It takes a truly horrific start — think along the lines of Miami’s current 8-20 mark — to play yourself out of contention in the first month.

It is, however, time for urgency. Because while the Red Sox have some time left, it’s running out.

Recent history suggests as much. Since 2012, 58 teams have won 90 games, the benchmark for contending for the postseason. Only nine of those teams were below .500 after 29 games (not that 29’s a magic number, it’s just where the Red Sox were entering Tuesday). Five teams were below the mark by multiple games. And only one — last year’s Dodgers, who went 92-71 in the regular season and reached the World Series — had a record as poor as Boston’s, which was an identical 12-17. But even that comes with a caveat; Los Angeles had outscored its opponents by eight runs, and had a Pythagorean win-loss percentage (a Bill James stat) of .528. Basically, the Dodgers were playing better than their record suggested.

The Red Sox have been outscored by 31 runs to this point, the third-worst differential in the majors and a mark better only than the Marlins and the Orioles. They’re right where they’ve deserved to be.

The goal, of course, is winning by the end of September, not in April, but Boston’s woes this month have already made their climb back to the top of the playoff picture a steep one. To get to 95 wins, which should put the Red Sox right in good shape for either a division or wild card race, they would need to go 83-50 the rest of the way, which is a .674 winning percentage, which is a 109-win clip.

In other words, to get to 95 wins, the Red Sox need to win at a higher rate than they did for last year’s historical 108-win season. Starting today.

How did this happen to a defending World Series champion that, with so many pieces back, was expected to be close to as good again this season? For starters, some of the key ingredients to last year’s regular season or postseason success, or both, have faltered. The starting pitching has been terrible, with a 5.69 ERA compared to last year’s 3.77 mark. The bullpen, at 4.43, hasn’t been much better. They’re below league average in hitting (.239, 21st), power (30 home runs, 24th; .391 slugging, 23rd) and overall pitching (5.14 ERA, 25th). The players who didn’t return — say, Craig Kimbrel — haven’t been adequately replaced. The ones who did — say, Nathan Eovaldi — haven’t been adequate, period.

Oddly enough, however, the Red Sox’s biggest problems are also the biggest reasons for optimism that this will still be a fun season at Fenway. What are the chances Chris Sale continues to pitch at a 6.30 ERA? Does anyone expect Rick Porcello to stay near his current 7.43 ERA? Mitch Moreland is batting .209, Rafael Devers has no home runs. What are the odds, really, that that won’t improve?

Mookie Betts, batting .447 over his last 10 games after seeing his average drop to .200, has figured it out. Chances are, the rest of a team full of hardened players who thrived on the way to a world championship will, too.

There just isn’t time to waste. The Red Sox need to start winning and winning often to give themselves a shot, and the best way to do that is with a hot streak to get things going, the kind they managed over and over again last season. Win nine of 10 or 12 of 15, and the team is back where it expected to be. And the alarms and sirens quiet down.

Wait too long, however, and they’ll be louder than ever. And this time, it could be too late to turn them off.


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