In some ways, as pathetic as it might sound, I’d rather have lost last night’s game by that 6-3 score that held through 7 innings. I could have chalked it up as another Matt Clement implosion, finished off my apertif, then headed to off bed, thanking God that we’ve got Beckett tonight to help stave off a potential 0-for-three showing against the Jays, factoring in Sox Killer Ted Lilly’s start on Wednesday.

Instead, Tek drives a three-run jobber and we’re all knotted up. Just like my stomach. Because when I see us get so close to victory, I begin to realize that the only thing standing between us and said victory are the fellas in the new, Timlin-free bullpen. Tavarez, Seanez, Delcarmen, Van “who?” Buren… it’s really like choosing between different flavors of arsenic these days. My first thought was the Papel-Bot. Sure, you’d be asking for two innings out of his magic arm, but this is a critical game at the start of a critical road trip against a division rival. Would you be asking too much? I don’t think so. But, again, I own every episode of The Monkees on DVD. If not the ‘Bot, then surely Foulke, who is scary, but certainly preferable to anyone else out there in such a situation.

Instead, Tito went for the appropriately named Riske, and paid the price. And the fact that it was Smarm-Master Shea Hillenbrand who stroked the game-winning hit? Salt in the wound, people.

This is why I would have preferred the 6-3. Or even 6-0. Sure, it’s nice to sit back and say, “Well, they proved they’ve got some fight in ’em. That you can’t keep ’em down.” But if it doesn’t bag me a W, seriously, you can keep it. And this game, at least from the comfort of my armchair, looked winnable. With a little jiggering. A little thinking outside the box. A little taking advantage of the other team’s gaff — namely, not bringing in B.J. “That thing got a hemi?” Ryan to face Tek — and maneuvering the chess pieces accordingly. Clement, giving up 6 runs over 3.1 innings in an appalling display, was outpitched, outclassed, and outquaffed by Halladay, but we still ended up in a damn good position to win. We just couldn’t seal the deal.

So now I spiral. I feel the fear setting in. What if we go 0-10 on this trip? Or 1-9? Who’s gonna step in for Wells tomorrow night? Are we heading back to DiNardo Land? What if Beckett can’t get the job done? When is Clemens and/or Dontrelle Willis getting here? When’s the “Folks, we’re sorry, but we really f–ked up with this whole signing Matt Clement thing” press conference on Yawkey Way?

It’s just one loss after four straight wins. But it was a tough one. One that, hopefully, won’t set the tone for this road trip.