A painful and historic lack of offense is crushing the Red Sox's chances of advancing to the American League Championship Series, and they have just one more game to figure this out. If they don't, their season is over.
"We need to execute and swing the bats better," third baseman Mike Lowell said after the Red Sox lost to the Angels, 4-1, in Game 2 of AL Division Series on Friday night.
The Red Sox are down, 2-0, going into Game 3 on Sunday, and all of New England awaits to see if their sluggers can start hitting at Fenway Park like they have all year.
"This is not the way we scripted it, but you're not eliminated until you lose that third game," Lowell said. "It will be a great feeling going back to Boston. We just need to focus on that third game on Sunday."
In the course of dropping the first two games, the Red Sox have made some club postseason history. They have just one run on eight hits in two games. In 151 playoff games dating back to the 1903 World Series, the club has never been limited to just one run or as few as eight combined hits over two consecutive playoff games.
They've run across many great pitchers in their postseason history, from Roger Clemens, Dwight Gooden and Dave Stewart, to Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Pete Alexander and Christy Mathewson, but they have never had this tough of a time scoring runs or getting hits over a two-game stretch.
"It happens," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "It's two games, but it's more magnified in the playoffs. We have to swing the bats and we have to have better at-bats. We need to win. No matter how you do it, we need to win."
The Red Sox scored just one run on three hits in a 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the ALCS in 2008. So it's actually two runs on 11 hits in their past three playoff games.
The Red Sox are hitting .131 for this series. The lowest batting average by a team in a Division Series is held by the Texas Rangers, who hit .141 in scoring one run over three games against the Yankees in 1998.
"We're just not getting hits or getting men on base," Kevin Youkilis said. "I've been one of the biggest culprits. We've got to step it up in Game 3."
The Red Sox return to Fenway Park. That should help. The Red Sox scored an AL-leading 481 runs in 81 games at home this year. Their .498 slugging percentage at home was also the highest in the league.
"It's not comforting going down 0-2, but that's the position we are in," left fielder Jason Bay said. "The silver lining is we're going home. Hopefully we can force another game back out here."
Designated hitter David Ortiz seems to have struggled the most. He is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts in two games. He is hardly alone.
Lowell is 0-for-7, including grounding into one double play. Bay and J.D. Drew are 1-for-5, Pedroia is 1-for-8 and Youkilis is also 1-for-8, with a double that stands as one of two extra-base hits in two games.
Jacoby Ellsbury has been Ted Williams compared to his other teammates. He is the only Red Sox player with more than one hit, going 2-for-7. He had a triple in the fourth inning on Friday and scored on a single by Victor Martinez.
That's Martinez's only hit in seven at-bats and it's the Red Sox's only hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position over two games.
"It's not like we are squandering scoring opportunities," Bay said. "It would be one thing if we were getting guys on base every inning and not getting them home. We're not getting many scoring opportunities at all, and that's because of their pitching.
"We're a good offense and we have been all year. But people tend to forget those two guys out there are not just flipping the ball up there."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.