And this one… man, it just felt good from the start, didn’t it?

It may have been my pre-game “Keep the Streak Alive” feast of hot dogs-and-Goldschlager, but I had the warm fuzzies from the get-go. From that pre-game ceremony where Pedro, Manny and Papi presented some plaques for Katrina relief (at least I think that’s what it was. I was on my fifth frank and had the sound down). Watching the three of them goofing around — Manny giving Petey the perpetu-hug and Ortiz slapping his man-sized mitts on both of their backs — brought back the 2004 vibe in a big way. To the point that I expected Kevin Millar to show up in assless chaps to complete the picture.

And then the game commenced. Because, as a sideshow to Peteypalooza, there have actually been some games to play. And I’m man enough to admit that in the sixth inning, after New York plated a couple, I thought the streak would end. Glavine was just tying us up in too many knots [and with all due respect to Glavine, I still believe that his single greatest contribution to the game has been co-starring in the best. Nike. commercial. evah.] Even after we’d tied it up, I felt a slight twinge of anxiety.

But then the magic took hold. And Coco Crisp — glorious, high-f–kin’-falutin’ Coco — scrounged us up a go-ahead run on a bunt, stolen base, A-Gon bunt and Youk sac fly. And in the top of the eighth, when David Wright posalutely nailed a drive to the outfield that looked certain to tie the game, Coco took flight, snaring the ball with one of those “how the f–k did he catch that?!?” maneuvers. And the only thing that could have topped it for sheer awesomeness would have been if they carpet-bombed my neighborhood with drunk high school cheerleaders.

A few moments later, when Papi hit his 23rd home run as NESN intercut with images of a smiling Coco chugging Red Bull on the dugout railing, I found myself grinning. All alone, basked only in the glow of my TV, colon packed with beef franks and alcohol, and I’m smiling like the goddam village idiot. And it’s one of those moments that you catch yourself smiling and you’re not even sure why you were smiling but you realize you so caught up in this Red Sox team that you never want this season, this game, this moment to end. It was like the grand consummation of my relationship with the 2006 team. Now we can meet each other’s parents, start looking at houses and speak freely about how much Rudy Seanez needs to be choloroformed.

The funny thing about winning streaks: as much as we don’t want them to end, I imagine that none of the players want to be the guy what ends it. So they’re pushing themselves, stepping it up, feeling confident even when they’re down, because they know that all it takes is one Ortiz swing, a flick of A-Gon’s glove, or the sight of The Papel-Bot coming out of the bullpen gates to turn things their way. And I can’t friggin’ wait to see how they’re gonna top themselves this time.

Lastly, as we look toward the upcoming series with Florida, I will make this bold prediction: If the Sox beat the D-train tonight, then they’re going to win 20 games in a row. Write it down. Oh, and a hex on the schedulers who missed the golden opportunity to pitch Josh Johnson against Jason Johnson in this series, setting up what would have been an unprecedented spiral of “who’s got the better johnson” jokes. Which, of course, would have been followed by the apocalypse.