Hot streaks and cold skids come and go over the 26 weeks of a major league baseball season. While it is a cliché, it is an indisputable truth that you cannot get too high or too low during the course of a season.

It would’ve been easy for Boston Red Sox fans to do both over the past two weeks. On Thursday the Sox began the day in Cleveland on the heels of two scintillating wins over the Central Division-leading Indians. The Sox were a full 41/2 games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East and pulling away from Cleveland in the battle for home-field advantage in a potential first-round series.

Then came unexpected disaster. Chris Sale had one of his worst starts of the season, the Sox were beaten 13-6. Boston had to settle for a four-game series split with the team that swept them in the 2016 playoffs.

The Red Sox hadn’t given up as many 13 runs in a game this season before Thursday’s loss. One night later they set an even lower standard in a 16-3 loss to the Orioles that featured five Boston errors.

Two days later, Baltimore headed home after a sweep at Fenway Park. Suddenly, Boston’s position atop the division didn’t feel very stable.

The four straight losses matched the longest losing streak of the season for the Red Sox, who were outscored 38-10 in that span. Boston’s offense was in a team-wide funk and the pitching was struggling mightily. Even after Doug Fister pitched another strong game in a 2-1 loss Sunday, the team’s ERA in the four-game slide was over 9.00.

Red Sox fans breathed a little easier after the Sox ended their losing streak with a 6-5 win over Toronto on Monday night.

If you’re an optimist you can easily dismiss this as a bump in the road. Entering Monday’s game, Boston still had the best record (15-8) in the American League since the nonwaiver trade deadline of July 31 and will undoubtedly get a boost when Dustin Pedroia and Jackie Bradley, Jr. return to the lineup in early September.

But a lot of Red Sox fans aren’t optimists. They look at this as the beginning of a slide that will knock the Sox out of their once-comfortable spot atop the division and into a steel-cage match that will see them fighting for survival in the AL wild-card race, where seven teams were within three games of the final spot.

We’ll get a much better feel for that by the end of the week, after the Sox and Yankees meet for a four-game series in the Bronx. It’ll be the last meeting of the year between the two rivals, and a chance for the New Yorkers to stake a claim for the divisional title.

The Red Sox can’t get caught looking ahead to that series, with three games in Toronto to begin the trip. There are just five weeks remaining in the season, and the stretch run is about to begin. A two-game lead in the loss column isn’t big enough to get caught daydreaming.

For Sox fans, the sting of last year’s three-and-out appearance in the postseason is still fresh. We know that the good vibes of a first-place run can disappear in just a few days.

And these last few days weren’t very good to the Red Sox.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.