Excellent work, I say.

By allowing ourselves to once again assume the role of Ned Beatty in Deliverance, by dropping our third straight playoff game to the Rays, and by being outscored 22-5 since the series came to Fenway, we have successfully lulled our opponent into a false sense of security.

Secret Agent Drew, that 0-for-5 showing at the top of the order was precisely what we were expecting. Or, more specifically, what they were expecting. Heh.

Operative Papi, that not-so-robust .071 series average and your alarming lack of home runs this postseason has got everyone assuming you’re toast on a stick, worn out and tired with a bum wrist and a bad case of missing Manny. In other words, nicely played!

Beckett and Lester, by failing to come through when everyone pegged you as sure things, you’ve helped fill us all with dread for the remaining games of this series. Your checks are in the mail.

Agent Wakefield… well, what can we say? The Nation had their concerns about bringing you into game four, already down by two games, and you didn’t disappoint. In one of the most important games you’ve pitched in a couple years, you had nothing, handing out three home runs in the first three innings and achieving a 16.88 ERA. Bravo.

By all accounts, we are dead. Roadkill. Scragglers whose pitchers can’t hold any lead that our dismal offense might get lucky enough to conjure. Lame duck champions who are hours away from having to surrender the trophy we’d fought so hard to reclaim. Every time the Rays hit the ball, it finds a gap, the wall, or Mass Ave. Every time we hit the ball, when we actually do hit the ball, it finds a glove. None of this bodes well for our chances to take three straight.

Which means it’s time to turn it on.

You know, like we did after that embarrassment in game three of the 2004 ALCS. Or after last year’s postseason meltdowns against the Indians. We do our best work when it’s win or go home. And all of a sudden, it’s win or go home.

Look, I wrote you off halfway through the 2004 ALCS, and look what you did. So even though I see the look on the Rays players’ faces and the urgency in their swings and the holy-crap-can-you-believe-this-is-happening glow in their eyes. Even though I’ve watched the wild-eyed look of disbelief on Jason Bay’s face as he slid across the plate to end the ALDS transform into the somber realization that it just might not be the magical year he’d imagined. Even though I grimace at the prospects of what Daisuke might bring to the table against a Rays team eager to finish us off Thursday night, I can’t bring myself to stop believing. Because it really isn’t over until it’s over, and as George Michael says, “I gotta have faith.” AND WHEN GEORGE MICHAEL TELLS ME TO DO SOMETHING, GODDAM IT, I DO IT. Unless, of course, he tells me to grab his tweeter.

So, look, the hitting has to start. Better pitching has to start. And it all has to start like now and shit.

Because I’m just not ready to kiss this thing goodbye.

And I hope you’re not, either.