Are the Boston Red Sox officially out of the playoff race? No. But it sure looks like they think they are. Which has made it easy to fade them recently on our MLB picks.

The Sox continue to fade away in the American League playoff races, and continue to battle the injury bug. They might think they’ll find some relief this weekend as they get ready for a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals, but they might want to re-think that premise.

The Misery Continues

Boston has dropped the first two games of a series at home vs. the LA Angels, heading into Thursday’s series finale. So the Sox have already lost that series, and they’re now 0-5-1 over their last six series, losing 14 of their last 20 games.

Boston now sits six games under .500 at 59-65, and not even worth mentioning in the AL East. The Sox are also mired 8.5 games behind the Oakland A’s in the battle for the second American League playoff spot.

A more realistic goal might be just to avoid their first losing season since 1997.

And as if things aren’t already going South, as Boston continues playing without David Ortiz, the Sox learned this week that OF Carl Crawford will miss the rest of the season because of a bad elbow.

Realistically, though, Crawford’s situation doesn’t really matter, because he hasn’t done anything this year anyway, and the Sox aren’t going anywhere this fall.

Boston is now 13-21 without Big Papi this season.

This Weekend’s Guests

Kansas City just dropped two of three games at Tampa Bay, losing that series rubber match Wednesday 5-3. But the Royals are actually 4-2-1 in their last seven series, winning 14 of their last 22 games.

So while KC, at 55-68, might not reach .500 this year, they’ve got an excellent chance to show improvement from their 71-91 record of last year.

Pitching Matchups

Jon Lester (7-10, 5.03) will start Friday for Boston against Bruce Chen (9-10, 5.45) for KC. Then Josh Beckett (5-11, 5.23) goes Saturday for the Sox vs. Jeremy Guthrie (2-3, 3.23) for the Royals. Sunday Felix Doubront (10-6, 4.70) is expected to come off the DL to start for Boston against rookie Will Smith (4-5, 5.40) for Kansas City. And Monday afternoon Clay Buchholz (11-4, 4.47) will go for the Red Sox vs. Luke Hochevar (7-11, 4.95) for the Royals.

In the only meeting so far this season between Boston and KC the Royals took two of three games from the Sox at Kaufmann Stadium back in May.

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