Mike Napoli (Photo by Kelly O’Connor via SittingStill.smugmug.com)

The Boston Red Sox are nine games behind the AL East-leading Toronto Blue Jays and have really been underachieving most of the 2014 season. After a 1-5 mark over the past week, the team needs to right the ship fast as the record for the season is 28-34 through 62 contests. With 100 games to go, the upcoming week is one the Red Sox need to start going on a roll if they want any shot of making the playoffs this year.

Mike Napoli Nearly Perfect in Return

Napoli made his presence felt behind David Ortiz on Sunday night with a 3-for-4 night while drawing a walk and launching his sixth homer of the year after missing 14 games with a sprained finger. The slugger didn’t seem to miss a beat and even saw 21 pitches in his five plate appearances.

The 32-year-old lengthens the lineup and helps protect David Ortiz and was one of many reasons the Red Sox snapped a five-game skid against the Detroit Tigers Sunday night. With his return in the lineup, the Red Sox offense might be able to start clicking.

Starting Pitching Struggles Continue

Jon Lester on Saturday cost his team a contest in which Max Scherzer gave up four runs in less than seven innings of work as he got blasted with five runs, including two solo home runs at Comerica Park Saturday evening. The Red would lose 8-6 after trying to rally in the ninth inning off struggling closer Joe Nathan in a non-save situation.

Over the last week, the Red Sox have allowed 32 runs over six contests for a 5.05 ERA over that timetable. That includes four earned runs from Rubby De La Rosa on Friday against the Tigers and five earned runs from Jake Peavy on Tuesday. The Red Sox got a solid eight innings with three runs with two of them being earned from John Lackey on Sunday while also getting a qulaity outing from Brandon Workman and Lackey against the Cleveland Indians earlier in the week.

If the Red Sox even are considering saving this season, the pitching needs to step it up and start battling in each outing if the Red Sox want to make the postseason, even as a Wild Card team.

Going Forward

The Red Sox have a full seven games this week with three at Baltimore and four at home against Terry Francona and the Indians. If the Red Sox need to start winning games, then this is the week to do so.

Prediction: 5-2; The Boston Red Sox have the benefit of the doubt this week with a struggling Baltimore Orioles rotation in a hitter’s park while also getting the top of their rotation against the Indians at home. If the Red Sox offense can start bringing in all the runenrs, then this week will be a strong one for the defending World Series champions.