First things first: we know Dustin Pedroia is something on the wee side, but, jesus, the AP photo above makes him look like a goddam mannequin sitting on Lyle Overbay’s lap.

Turns out Lyle had good reason to get pissed; replays showed he was clearly safe on a close play that would have put the tying run in scoring position for the Jays in the top of the ninth. But since I feel society still owes us plenty of calls for the infamous “phantom tag” of the 1999 ALCS against the Yanks, I’m not ashamed to kick it Malcolm X style, and accept this win by any means necessary.

But beyond that call, the story today, as it seems to be every time he starts, was Lester. During the offseason, I was ready to help gift-wrap the guy and ship him off for Santana. All he’s done since then is provide us with a season’s worth of highlight reel footage, getting the job done practically every time we need him to come up huge. I don’t see how Tito could justify handing anyone else the ball for a playoff Game One, barring fear of getting shivved by Josh Beckett–always a possibility, I’d imagine. Lester’s earned that right in 2008. And then some.

Three of four from the Jays is, I’ll admit, about one win more than I’d anticipated. And thanks in part to our new best friends the New York Yankees, who took down the Rays this afternoon, we head to Tampa Bay just one game out of first place. The way we’ve been playing away from Fenway this year, we’ll want to take the division to avoid starting the ALDS on the road. A little payback against the Rays–two of three as I can’t imagine a sweep–gets us that much closer to this goal.

If I learned anything after 2004, it is to always keep the faith. And I will. But it’ll be a lot easier to do if our guys looks as hungry at the Trop as the Rays looked at Fenway.