The Red Sox were coming off a 5-1 homestand, had won eight of nine overall, received another outstanding start from Clay Buchholz and were threatening to build on a one-run advantage in the eighth inning at Cleveland, an extremely tough place to win these days. Things were looking up.
In a heartbeat, it went into the toilet.
In what has to go down as one of the more painful setbacks of the season, Boston watched Dustin Pedroia limp off the field on his surgically repaired left foot, saw Daniel Bard blow a lead in the eighth and then wasted a golden opportunity to tie the game in the ninth, falling to 0-4 in Cleveland this year after a 3-2 loss in the rain Monday night.
The news on Pedroia after the game was somewhat positive. He told reporters he only jammed the foot and had some numbness in the leg after he stumbled rounding second base in the top of the eighth.
However, it is not the first time we have seen Pedroia favor that side and it could be an issue from time to time all year.
Still, the Sox were leading 2-1 when Pedroia left and Clay Buchholz was absolutely cruising, his only blemish being a solo home run by Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth. Cabrera had seven straight hits at the time, so Buchholz could almost be forgiven.
However, having thrown a career-high 127 pitches his last time out, Buchholz was only allowed 94 in this one. He left with a man on first (Jack Hannahan singled past Pedroia's replacement, Drew Sutton, on a play that Pedroia probably makes) and one out in the eighth, yielding to Bard.
"Before the game, [pitching coach Curt Young] and I were talking," manager Terry Francona said. "I told Curt the last thing I want to do is make this kid work in his last inning of work because of what he had done in his previous outing. We got to Bard and we felt pretty good about it."
Unfortunately, so did the Indians. A single by Michael Brantley tied it and up stepped Cabrera with the tying run on second (Brantley went to second on the throw home).
It would have been unconventional to walk Cabrera, the No. 2 hitter, to get to the No. 3 hitter, Shin-Soo Choo. But with first base open and Cabrera on a tear, it was an option. Francona passed, and on a night that went from pretty good to horribly bad in the span of one hour, it proved to be the wrong decision, if it even was one in the first place.
Cabrera hammered the second pitch he saw from Bard off the wall in left to score the decisive run. It was almost 11 p.m. on a night that began with a 61-minute rain delay when Cleveland finally took the lead. Boston still had enough time for one more punch in the gut.
The Red Sox got back-to-back singles in the ninth from J.D. Drew and Jed Lowrie to put runners at the corners with one out. Carl Crawford, one of the more difficult players to double up, stepped to the plate and promptly got doubled up. It was a 4-6-3 twin killing that ended a game that just seemed destined to be the Indians' from the moment Pedroia took his spill.
"That's why their record is what it is," Buchholz said of the cardiac kids from Cleveland, who improved to 19-4 at home, eight of the wins coming in their final at-bat.
Two of those dramatic victories have come against Boston. The Red Sox maybe could have seen this coming. Chances are, however, they didn't think it would happen so quickly, and in such a painful way.