With the game deadlocked in the eighth inning, Pedro Ciriaco — pinch hitting for Ryan Kalish — stepped into the batter's box and continued his herculean feats, drilling his first career Major League home run over the Green Monster to seal Boston's victory.
At least, that was the thought around Fenway Park. But just one strike away from icing the win, pitcher Alfredo Aceves inexplicably surrendered a three-run blast to slugger Joe Mauer as the Twins sped away with a 6-4 victory over the Red Sox.
It's just another way the Red Sox have managed to drop another defeat in a season full of inconsistencies.
"It's part of the game — mistakes," Aceves said. "And also I made a mistake the next pitch and that's it. It cost us the game. Every game is important. And whatever game is done is done."
There's no taking back that pitch, but the losses are adding up. As a result of Mauer's heroics, the Red Sox have now lost four straight games and have fallen two games under .500 for the first time since July 27.
Red Sox infielder Nick Punto, who started for Will Middlebrooks, has been in this position in the past. As a member of the Cardinals last season, Punto watched as St. Louis overcame a nine-and-half game deficit in the wild card standings to enter the postseason.
The Cardinals went on to steamroll any opponent that stood in their way en route to winning the World Series. Despite the dire state of affairs in Boston, Punto believes the Red Sox can rebound from this rut.
"The similarities here are very similar," Punto said. "We're very mediocre. We're not playing good baseball. We have the talent in this room to do it. We just haven't. We know we need to go on this run. The clock is ticking. We need to play good baseball."
Saturday's sudden collapse versus the Twins brought back memories of the April 21 game against the Yankees, when Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine infamously called the team's loss "the bottom" after they squandered a nine-run lead.
When asked if he would characterize this game in a similar manner, Valentine didn't take the bait.
"No," Valentine said. "We’ve got to put together a nice little run. This is a lousy one, a lousy game to lose, but we had to come back to get the lead. Maybe we’ll get the lead and keep the lead. Who knows?"
"We'll bounce back — unless they're going to call off the season. If they allow us to play, we'll be out there playing hard."
At this point, that's all the Red Sox can do.
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