Red Sox face daunting math

They all hurt, a little. But Thursday's loss hurt the Red Sox a lot.

No, not because the Red Sox blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning.

OK, partly because of that.

But at this point, every loss hurts a lot. Realistically or not, the Red Sox still have designs on October. But the math is terrifying: They can't afford to lose many more games.

After Thursday, the Sox are 66-50. To have a reasonable chance at the playoffs, they need to win (let's say) 98 games. That means going 32-14 the rest of the way. But considering the Yankees' and Rays' records, 98 wins will be enough only if the Sox knock at least one of those clubs down a notch, too.

The Red Sox have six more games against the Rays, six more against the Yankees. If they take four of six from each of those outstanding squads, they still have to go 24-10 against everyone else. Seems like a tall order.

Especially because the Yankees, even if they lose four of six to the Red Sox, can still win 99 games by going 27-16 against everyone else (and they'll get a head start this weekend).

The Rays, if they lose four of six to the Red Sox, can still win 99 games by going 28-14 against everyone else.

The Red Sox still have a shot. They just have to play exceptionally well against one or both of their competitors and exceptionally well against everyone else ... and hope that one of those competitors doesn't play brilliantly against everyone else.

Hey, it could happen. But there's not room for many more games like Thursday's.