Tonight begins a whirlwind tour of duty against our most bitter AL East rivals, the Rays and Yanks. And on the heels of our four game win streak against the dregs of the division, these upcoming series will show us, quite clearly, whether the 2009 Sox have got the stuff to compete for that trophy, currently on loan to Philadelphia. Here’s the line-up vs. Matt Garza:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Victor Martinez, 1B
4. Kevin Youkils, 3B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. J.D. Drew, RF
7. Jason Varitek, C
8. Josh Reddick, LF
9. Nick Green, SS

Not exactly a murderer’s row. But I am glad to see V-Mart in the line-up on the heels of his brilliant performance on Sunday. I’d feared that Teet’s notorious allegiance to the “guys what brought him here” would have him benching Victor for Lowell tonight.

So what do you think, folks? What’s your prediction for the next six games? Myself, I’m going with 3-3. We’ll take one from the Rays, and two from the Yanks.

Also, apropos of nothing, even though I don’t know the first thing about football, I’ve loved Mike Reiss’ work ever since he guest-starred on that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine is dating a guy she thinks is African American.