BALTIMORE -- If you don't pitch, it doesn't matter how good you feel. Doesn't matter how relaxed you are.
If your aces don't pitch, you're in serious trouble.
The Red Sox, once again, are in serious trouble, after Monday night's 6-3 loss to the Orioles. A wild-card lead that was nine games just 23 days ago has now totally disappeared, after Boston's loss and the Rays' 5-2 win over the Yankees.
All tied up, with two games to play.
Disaster looms once again for the Sox, and if you want to blame anyone, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are available.
It was Beckett who started -- and lost -- Monday. But this disaster doesn't belong to just one guy. Right now, the two biggest culprits are the two biggest starters.
When September began, someone using my name wrote that the difference between the Red Sox and the Yankees was that Boston had two top-of-the-rotation starters and New York had just one.
OK, I'll confess, it was me. And I'll admit it, I was wrong.
The last two times through the rotation, when the Red Sox needed Beckett and Lester the most, the two have combined to go 0-4 with a 9.39 ERA.
That's worse than John Lackey -- who, after his performance Sunday night (in-game, not postgame), is now Boston's most effective starter.
Lackey, Jacoby Ellsbury and the bullpen really did give the Sox a lift with Sunday's win. The pregame atmosphere in the Red Sox clubhouse Monday afternoon felt nothing like the weekend atmosphere in New York, or last week's at Fenway.
Sure enough, the Red Sox took a second-inning lead Monday night, just the second time in the last 13 games they'd scored first. Even when Beckett gave the run back in the bottom of the second, the Red Sox went back ahead in the fourth.
But on a night where they really needed Beckett to pitch like an ace, he turned the fifth and sixth into two innings of Red Sox misery.
When Robert Andino -- remember him? -- hit the first Orioles' inside-the-park home run in Camden Yards history (that's 20 years of history), the Red Sox were down four runs.
Andino's blast went off Ellsbury's glove in center field, but it would have been a spectacular catch, as he crashed into the fence. The blame goes to the guy who served up the blast, not the guy who nearly caught it.
It didn't help that the Sox didn't score after Jed Lowrie's go-ahead home run in the fourth. But this one was on Beckett, without doubt.
And the Red Sox' season now rests on the shaky Erik Bedard, who starts Tuesday, and then on Lester, now certain to come back Wednesday on short rest.
Normally, the Sox would feel good relying on Lester. They felt good relying on Beckett Monday.
Good feelings don't last around here. Right now, that should be obvious.