Red Sox still in good shape

September has gone badly for Dustin Pedroia and the Red Sox. But don't panic. Yet. Jim Rogash/Getty Images

There is a time for measured, philosophic calm, and there is a time for unrestrained panic. In Boston, it is time for the latter.

Despite a recent bevy of championships in a bevy of different sports, Boston and environs remain, to a large extent, home to the stricken Calvinist. As such, what's unfolded over the past several days has left Boston Red Sox fans lost in a state of misery and in the embrace of worst-case scenarios.

What, exactly, has unfolded over the last several days? Those plucky Tampa Bay Rays, despite being outfitted with a payroll that's roughly 26 percent of Boston's, have hawked down the Red Sox in the AL wild-card chase and now sit two games back of Boston. Central to those developments is the fact that Tampa Bay has taken five of six from the Red Sox.

So how did such a thing come to pass? On the Boston side of things, it's been a systemic breakdown. However, the pitching staff has been even worse: Boston starters, already hobbled beyond recognition, are lugging around a 6.37 ERA for the month, and Boston relievers over that same span have an aggregate ERA of 5.81. Hence that 4-13 record in September.