Four in a row, and the offense is back. Back like crazy back, with 14 hits last night, a grand slam from Manny (he of the 31 home runs), a continued return to 2003 form for V-Tek and Mueller, and consistency in the lead-off spot from Johnny Damon. Schilling earns his fifteenth win, Mark “the Man” Bellhorn is back from the DL, and there’s no shortage of ass-slapping and huggy-hug in the dugout.

The love is back. The passion is back. These guys are locked in and playing like they’re actually interested in winning something and not just going through the motions before retiring to their mansions and hovercrafts and secret mountain hideaways (at least in the case of Gabe Kapler, who, it is widely known, resides year-round in a bunker beneath the Blue Hills in Milton, from where he oversees a legion of robot crime fighters).

And this morning, as I sit down to my Froot Loops and Chivas, we’re only seven and a half games behind the Yankees.

An imposing differential, to be sure, but not insurmountable. At least not right now. Not the way the Sox are playing. Not the way New York is playing.

Do I jinx it by speaking it? I could care less. This is what I’ve been jonesing for since last winter. There’s a pennant race in Boston, and I just can’t keep it to myself. To Tek and Millar and Manny and Papi and Schill-Dog and the Hammer and OC and everyone else I say, bring me the division! It’s time to start rocking like the homeless on free hula-hoop night.