How can they? It was almost a year ago when the Red Sox rallied from the edge of elimination to beat the Yankees in one of the most memorable American League Championship Series in history. In 2003, the resilient Red Sox came back from an 0-2 series deficit against Oakland in the ALDS.
One game in Chicago? Not a problem. Or is it?
"We know we got our [tails] whipped today, but guess what? We can tie the series up tomorrow," Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon said. "We just have to be on. Those guys keep swinging the bats like they did today, any team would be in trouble."
He could be right. The White Sox were on a rampage Tuesday, racking up 11 hits in the game and eight hits, including three home runs, off Red Sox starter Matt Clement. A five-run first inning, the second most runs scored in an inning by the White Sox in postseason play, put the Red Sox in an early hole and marked the beginning of the end for the Red Sox right-hander. Clement was charged with eight runs in 3 1/3 innings before yielding to Chad Bradford in the fourth.
All Bradford did was pitch 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Relievers Jeremi Gonzalez and Bronson Arroyo could not boast the same. Gonzalez was tagged for four runs in 2 1/3 innings and Arroyo was charged with two runs on two hits in his one inning of work.
"Like everybody knows, it's not news that our pitching needs to hold the opposite team down," Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said. "We don't get that, you are going to be in trouble. In a playoff game when you give up 14 runs, you know what is happening."
Here's what else is happening. Tuesday's loss snapped an eight-game postseason winning streak for the Red Sox, including a six-game streak in the American League Division Series. The Red Sox are 6-5 in the postseason when losing the first game.
But statistics mean little to these Red Sox. Winning means everything. Even the experience of last year's historic run to a World Series championship doesn't necessarily mean a whole lot as it pertains to this series against the White Sox. Playing well -- more specifically, pitching well -- is the key and it can do wonders.
"Last year was last year and I'm not going to compare this year's team with last year's team," right fielder Trot Nixon said. "We got our tailed kicked today and we have Boomer [David Wells] going tomorrow. We have to go out there and execute offensively and played good defense behind him."
"What matters to this team is how we bounce back tomorrow," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I don't have any doubt that we will bounce back. You know, last year is a long time ago, different team, different scenario. Everything is different. This is another year. I don't have any doubt that we will bounce back."
Recent history (Tuesday's loss) and the future (Wednesday's game) were themes repeated by various players after the game. Nobody in the Red Sox clubhouse showed any signs of panic -- frustration, maybe -- and the focus remained the big picture, in this case, the entire ALDS.
One game? The Red Sox might not even worry if they drop the second game, although there will definitely be concern.
"You have to keep everything in perspective," first baseman Kevin Millar said. "You have to win three games in this short series, they won the first one and now we got to bounce back and find a way to get a split tomorrow."
Said catcher Jason Varitek: "Our team just has to be ready to play. It's not over. Tomorrow is a new day. It does not matter if you get beat by one run or 20. We got to be ready to play."
The defending champs will be ready. Wells takes the mound Wednesday with a playoff resume that boasts an impressive 10-3 record with a 3.18 ERA in 25 postseason appearances with four different clubs.
"David is good pitcher in playoff situations," Ortiz said. "He always wants the ball. I'm pretty sure tomorrow he is going to come out and pitch a good game."