The most feared words in the English language — next to “Look out! Wombats!” and “The Orpheum Theatre is proud to present REO Speedwagon” — are “It all comes down to Alex Cora.”

And when DO uttered those very words last night ’round midnight, I clicked off the TV and started the long, slow climb up the stairs. Because I knew what was about to happen. Or, more specifically, what wasn’t going to happen. No last at-bat comeback, no triumphant jog around the bases, no beer-soaked post-gamer with Heidi Watney. Just a whimpering end to a game that, you could argue, we didn’t deserve to win. But with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourteenth, we certainly had a chance to steal it–and return the favor for the Rays’ last minute snatch job on us Tuesday night. Sadly, no dice.

Why the f@#k was Cora even up in that situation? When there surely was someone on the bench–or, for that matter, someone sweeping the floors of the Hebrew Rehab Center in West Roxbury–who could have proven more capable? Ah, at that point, what did it matter? Far too many squandered opportunities to mention (including Papi, Youk, Bay and Lowell going a staggering 0-for-17!). But I’d invested so much time in the game, I felt I couldn’t walk away. I had to stay. Until I saw Cora walking to the plate with everything on his shoulders. And every single one of us knew what was going to happen next.

These Rays, they are the real deal. Can we say that the Sox are still the favorites to win the division after this series? All I know is this: As we hurdle into the final weeks of the season, if these last two games are any indication, I’ll almost certainly be in rehab by the time the playoffs start.