BOSTON Not even the heroic, clutch-hitting power of feel-good story Pedro Ciriaco could help the Red Sox out this time around.
Ciriaco came up to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning in a tied 2-2 game and slashed his first Major League home run into the front row of the Green Monster seats. The solo blast gave the Red Sox a lead after the Boston bullpen had conspired to give back a slim one-run lead, and Boston tacked on an insurance run that appeared to give them all they would need.
It appeared that Ciriaco once again was the late innings knight in shining armor for a Sox team looking for a hero, and showed that at least one member of the 25-man roster had some of that old Fenway magic coursing through their veins.
After all this was a minor league free agent that had been stuck in Triple-A with the Arizona and Pittsburgh organizations before signing with the Sox, and has flourished since arriving in Boston. Hes a player that has stepped up when Dustin Pedroia and Mike Aviles have both missed time with injuries, and became the first player since Wally Joyner to knock in game-winning runs against the New York Yankees on successive nights.
Ciriaco has 11 RBI this season for the Sox, and four out of the 11 have given Boston the lead in absolute statistical proof of his clutchness. But this Red Sox team is so moribund that they can wipe away even the widest smile spurred on by a rags-to-riches baseball story like Ciriaco.
Were very mediocre. Were not playing good baseball. We have the talent to do it and were just not getting it done, said Sox infielder Nick Punto. We need to get on this run and the clock is ticking. We need to start playing good baseball.
Bobby Valentine, Ciriaco and the rest of the Sox players had wide smiles and songs in their hearts after the Dominican infielders derring-do in the eighth. But they probably knew better, and of course it was their fate to once again get their teeth kicked in one last time.
We had a two-run lead. Guy coming up cold and hitting a home run and then Cody Ross knocking a guy in after a walk and a stolen base, said Valentine. Those were just good baseball plays.
Sunday is a nice day game and were going to bounce backunless theyre going to call off the season. If they let us play then well be ready to go tomorrow.
Alfredo Aceves melted down in the top in the top of the ninth culminating in a three-run Joe Mauer mashed homer that relegated the Red Sox to Mudville, and a moment to remember forever for Ciriaco was sullied in defeat.
It was a good feeling. He gave me a good pitch to hit and I put a good swing on it. But the only thing that matters is winning the game. We didnt win tonight, said Ciriaco. We just have to move on and look forward for tomorrow.
Its a tough loss. Its hard. Today is over. Tomorrow is a new day and we have to move forward, have fun, play hard and keep going just like we did today.
Ciriaco will wake up on Sunday morning and hell still be hitting .338 on the season. The 26-year-old will still be the best story on a Sox team thats on the road to nowhere, and his first career major league homer will have gone for naught when it should have gone into the scrapbook of great Fenway moments.
In the end it will go down as one more thing to dislike about this unlovable bunch of baseball misfits that have taken residence along Yawkey.
Except for Ciriaco, of course, he might just be a keeper.