Okay. So. Tonight.

The Red Sox are back home after an admittedly disappointing road trip, in which they went 5-4 against the likes of the Tigers, D-Rays and Twins. Yesterday’s slugfest, which saw 10 homeruns launched — six given up by Senor Tim Wakefield, who it appears is going to be feast or famine the rest of the way — ended in an 11-9 Sox win. And we’ll take it.

But now they’re back home. Where they’re 33-18. Where they’ll be playing the next 20 of 26.

Simply put, the time to switch to “ass kick” mode would be now.

The first step is taking four from Tampa Bay. This should be text book, like prying a corn muffin from the hands of a sleeping Roger Ebert. This is the type of team we should be beating. Everytime. And not just beating, but completely dismantling, piece by piece, slowly, so they remember your name and rue the day they ever ran afoul of Papi and crew. I want Lou Pinella barking incessantly, throwing balls, bats and bricks because his team just can’t stop the onslaught. I want Don Zimmer shifting as uncomfortably on the bench as he does in that commerical for chapped-ass cream. I want Aubrey Huff, Tino Martinez and Rocco Baldelli to lay down on Fenway’s green and start openly weeping because the beating the Sox have levied on their team has made them feel something less than men.

In plainest English: If the Red Sox are absolutely, positively serious about making any kind of run for the playoffs, it has to start with a sweep of the D-Rays.

And we’re off on the right foot. Tonight we have Curt Schilling going at home, and that’s been about the closest we’ve had to a sure thing this season.

This has to be the homestand we look back on and say, “Well, that’s where they finally got their shit grouped.” I want to see Manny get his home run swing back. I want to see Ortiz launch a couple to the roof of Crossroad’s pub on Beacon Street (a not-altogether-impossible trajectory, by the way. I’ve mapped it.). I want to hear the crowd attempt to chant Minty’s name as he goes 4-4 with some stellar D in his home field debut. I want the Schill-Dog to throw nine innings of two-hit ball. I want to hear talk radio callers saying things like, “Nice move by Tito last night” and “Did you see our boy Sveum thinking on his toes? Man, that’s ‘thinking man’s’ baseball!” I want to see Keith Foulke strike out the side in the ninth, every night. I want to see El Bencho channel his frustrations into a ten-home-runs-on-this-homestand tear. And, like Veruca Salt, I want it all now.

The Yankees? We’re not catching them. We know this. But the Wild Card, like that muffin, can be had. This morning, we’re all tied up with Texas and Anaheim. And we know we can beat them. We know we can.

And then it’s a whole new story come October.

Sidenote: During yesterday’s telecast, viewers got an alarming glimpse of Pokey’s fro, which has taken on epic proportions. And any aspiring punk bands out there could do worse than call themselves “Pokey’s Fro.”