Fenway Park, Boston. Thirty-five thousand rabid, championship-starved faithful watched their team take one step closer to their goal. The World Series. The Fall Classic. God help us, but this really could be the year.

The starting five are pitching as good as they have all year, on the brink of having five 10-game winners for the first time since 1979. The hitters are hitting, all of them, all the time. Defense? Yeah, got that, too. Bill Mueller flashed more skills tonight than a college girl on Bourbon Street. The score doesn’t tell the real story in this game. A mop-up-time grand slam made it respectable, but the Nation was already drunk on victory by then. Bring on Foulke and let’s get these people to Copperfield’s, thank-you-very-much.

For all the on-field heroics, it was something much more subtle that had Fenway shaking like Ted Kennedy before his morning Chivas. The changing of the scoreboard in left field. Down by two touchdowns in the fifth, the Yankees suffered their worst loss ever, 22-0. They were beaten down from beginning to end. Vasquez was in the clubhouse and showered in plenty of time to catch the premier of Father of the Pride, giving up 6 earned in one-and-a-third. Sturtze couldn’t stop the hemorrhage, giving up 7 in 3 innings. Late-season acquisition Esteban Loaiza, already banished from the starting rotation, took one for the team pitching the last three innings and giving up two 3-run homers.

Very quickly the New York fans will recover. They’ll say all the right things (“we still have a cushion”…”George and Joe will get them going”…”when was the last time the Sox won anything”), but they’ll be sneaking glances over their shoulders at the same time. The specter of the anti-1978 season is alive; it is from Boston, and it is pissed. And Georgie? He’s on the phone, and you can be sure a deal will be made. For now, Red Sox Nation sleeps well for another night. The 3-and-a-half game deficit (only 3 in the loss column) feels like a ten game lead. The calendar changes from August to September, but our thoughts are of October.