John Lackey in Cowboy Hat

Last night, the Red Sox clubbed 18 hits, scored 14 times, and won their fifth straight game — their eighth of the last nine. David Ortiz belted two home runs. Mike Napoli had another. Stephen Mothereffin’ Drew had a home run as well, and went 2-for-4. Xander Bogaerts, who couldn’t get bat on ball to save his life for much of July, went 3-for-4. JBJ had two hits and Daniel Nava, slipping into “stealth secret weapon” mode, had three. John Lackey won his 11th game, holding the Jays to just two hits and one run and keeping it real in a game that was a cakewalk from the third inning. He may well win 20 this season for the first time in his career.

Right now, the Red Sox are 7.5 games back in the East, but only 5.5 games back in the AL Wild Card race. Which isn’t great, but slightly better than two weeks ago, when they were 10.5 games out in the division.

They are undefeated since the All Star break and one of the hottest teams in baseball right now. Oh, and they’re 8-1 since cutting ties with AJ Pierzynski.

So is this for real? Have the truly turned a corner and primed themselves for a run at the postseason? All I know is this:

I grew up counting the Red Sox out and despite my better judgment, I still do it. I did it in 2004 when they were down 3 games in the ALCS. I did it in 2013 when the Tigers had the lead in game two of the ALCS. Hell, I even went on record saying they’d never recover from the interference play that ended game three of last year’s World Series. Each time, they proved me wrong.

On the other hand, this ain’t 2004. Or 2013. Or the strike shortened, split-season of 1981 in which the Sox (featuring Jim Rice and Yaz) actually made a run in the second half. There are 10 teams in the AL with better records than the Sox, and we’d have to play a shit-ton better than all of them down the stretch if we want to contend.

But I’m not gonna be the guy to say a David Ortiz-led Red Sox team can’t do something. If they can take six games on this eight game swing through Toronto and Tampa Bay, it might be time to brush up on “How to Survive a Miracle.” On the other hand, if they lose tonight’s game by, say, one run, it may be a sign that the hole they’ve dug themselves into is a little too deep to navigate.

That said, during last night’s game, Twitter blew up with Red Sox talk. This morning, everyone seems happier. The sun seems brighter, the air a bit fresher. The cute girl at the donut counter looks like she might actually give me a shot. As the Red Sox go, so goes this city. And as long as the boys keep it fun and exciting and give us something to dream about, August’s thick sheets of humidity will seem as light as an April breeze.

Oh, and Brock Holt dropped by to say, “screw you, gravity.”