After a relatively relaxing 2007 season, we hit the dog days and suddenly we’re in a play-off race. We watch the scoreboards, we curse the players who were getting free passes all season, when the lead was double-digits, and we live and die with each win or loss. Any other year, we would be giddy with a five-game lead and the best record in baseball, but this season it just isn’t enough.

Yesterday we saw a lot of the things we’ve seen all year: glimpses of what this team should be and proof of what has been. Beckett pitches a near-flawless eight-and-two-thirds but we have to use two bullpen arms – one of them the seemingly fragile closer – to get the final out. The team gets hits in a few key spots, but none from Papi or Manny. Drew and Lugo hint at the players Theo thought they were, but will they be on the express back to sucksville today?

The reality is that the Red Sox should have a double-digit lead still, and by season’s end, I think they will. They have just not been able to string a bunch of games together where everyone plays at the level they should. Instead, it has been a roller coaster ride of bottom-of-the-order guys stepping up when the stars struggle, or the big bats doing their job while others slump. Through it all, it has been the pitching staff that has carried the team. I know it’s been four months and the days are getting shorter, but maybe that’s a good thing. What if this team finally puts it all together for the stretch run and into the post-season? The answer is simple – they will be a juggernaut. Don’t doubt it.