Such are the highs and lows of the 2009 post-All Star Game Sox. Last Friday, after that come-from-behind, ninth inning laser show, I was secretly plotting my flights to LA for the Sox vs. Dodgers World Series. Then the Rangers took the next two games and I was back among the waterfront derelicts, drunk and unshaven, staring wistfully into an empty bottle and telling anyone who’d listen that our lack of offense would be our undoing. Now, less than a week later, I’m back on top of the world, tugging at my lapels as I proudly exclaim that the team couldn’t possibly look any better heading into a critical weekend series and sending fruit baskets to V-Mart and Drew.

Sure, it was the Blue Jays, twenty games out and falling. But a sweep is a sweep, and every game is critical as we barrel down the stretch. Alls I know is the guys are looking more locked in than they have in quite some time. Maybe it was the realization that the Wild Card lead had evaporated that kicked them back to life. Maybe Francona’s making good on his threat to force the guy with the lowest OBP to rassle DeMarlo Hale sans clothes. Whatever the reason, things are clicking. Papi is hitting (not last night, mind you, but back to swatting home runs at an alarming pace), V-Mart has been a lightning rod and even A-Gon seems to be getting into the act. Best of all was seeing Dustin slap a couple hits in his first day back in the line-up. That’s called grit, folks, and we’re going to need a lot of it to reach the playoffs.

So now we come back home for an absolutely critical series against the Yankees. We’re in Fenway, where we play real good. And thanks to Senor Lester hurling eight majestic innings and giving up only three hits last night, we’ve got a well-rested bullpen. Now if someone could just chloroform Brad Penny and stash him in a locker at the Chelsea YMCA, I’d feel damn good about our chances tonight.

Speaking of kidnapping, I liked this quote from the AP game recap:

Jason Varitek missed his third straight game. “We’ll just keep evaluating him and see how he’s doing,” Francona said.

Which, of course, is “secret code” for “We’ll be making sure he gets adequate food and water, but he’s not being released from the burlap sack until we’ve clinched a playoff spot.”