Let’s get one thing straight: while the wild card is nice in a “she’s got a great personality” kind of way (and it’s certainly proven an effective means to end, as the 2004 club showed us), to enjoy a bit more control over our post-season destiny–and to save MLB all the messy paperwork involved in assigning the AL East title to another team–we want the division. And the primary obstacle blocking our view of this objective is the Tampa Bay Rays.

So after those two jaw-droppingly awful losses that the Rays handed us last week during their visit to Boston, it somehow felt right that the Sox would return the favor, strutting into their sparsely-filled, catwalk-ridden place of business and administering a fist-to-gut, cleats-to-sack beat down as a reminder that, well, if the Rays really want that trophy, they gotta get through a man-wall of Ortiz, Tek, Bay and Youkilis to get it. Cliff Floyd understands this:

“They got the rings. They’re the champs. Think they don’t come in here thinking that? It’s theirs. They have it. We want it. But it theirs until it isn’t theirs, you know?”

The surest sign that we’re heading for playoff time came in the first, when Ortiz, who seems to have slipped back into his well-worn Superman outfit, went deep for three, followed by Scenic Lowell who also went long. From there, it was like Friday night at the shootin’ gallery with additional home runs from Bay, Tek, Youk, Ellsbury, Werner, Henry, Yaz, Dewey, Rice and Garfunkle. It was an exclamation point of a game, and, I’m hoping, a sure sign that the Sox are turning it on for the home stretch, becoming a barreling cargo train of awesome set to flatten everything in its path.

Hell, even Remy got swept up in the asskick vibe, getting all up in umpire Jerry Meals’ grill and claiming the home plate chief had “no feeling for the game” when he issued warnings to both benches after Tek was plunked by Kazmir. It’s a Remy rant worth hearing again. So here you go:

Tonight, we have the chance to kick Maddon and Co. off the island, and snag first place for ourselves. We take it one game at a time, because they all mean so much more as we scamper toward the finish line.