BOSTON -- In the meeting that Red Sox manager John Farrell had with his team before Monday's 4-2 loss to the Braves, there were no guarantees that the season would turn around in one night. The discussion was mainly about improving the process and level of performance.
So after another frustrating defeat, the veterans expressed determination to stay the course.
"This is the big leagues," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "We're trying our best to compete, we were just a couple of runs short. That's it. I think all the stuff before the game was to reassure everybody that we have a lot of season left.
"I've been on the other side, I've been on a team with an 11-game lead on September 3 and didn't make [the postseason], so being down eight games or whatever we are in June, we've got a long way to go. That's the way we all think, but we know there is urgency to play better. It's got to be baby steps, got to look at small picture before you look at the end. That's what we're trying to do."
The Red Sox hit into three double plays over the first three innings against Braves righty Williams Perez in Monday's loss.
And when Mookie Betts led off the sixth with a single, he got picked off first.
"I just reacted late," said Betts. "That's pretty much all I can say about that. Just reacted late. Evidently I got a little more extended. Just got picked off."
If the Red Sox had come all the way back in the ninth inning, the pickoff of Betts would have been forgotten.
But after getting the tying runs on base and the potential winning run to the plate, Alejandro De Aza grounded out to end the game.
"It's tough, but I won't say we can't get out of it," said third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who notched his 200th double and 1,000th career hit. "Keep fighting hard, keep playing hard and fighting every at-bat and every single inning. We were fighting and played a tough game. We don't give at-bats away. We have to fight every single moment."
Sandoval, who has won three World Series rings, knows how long a baseball season is and he wants to make sure his teammates remember that also.
"We've got a great team," Sandoval said. "I've been in tough situations before. I know how to handle it. I've been talking to my teammates. We need to start together and do our jobs better and play hard every single day."
At this stage, the Red Sox simply can't afford to allow themselves to get consumed by the wins and losses.
"Play," said Pedroia. "That's it. Show up every day and try to do your job the best you can. Forget about all the other stuff and zone in on what you do. That's it. Put the blinders on and focus on trying to get better every day."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.