The numbers say the Red Sox are rendered impotent in the steely haze of Tropicana Field. Amazingly, they’ve won only two games in this hell-hole over the past two regular seasons and stand at an unimpressive 4-8 overall against the Rays in 2009.

Well, good thing I’m a guy who only pays attention to numbers when serve my evil intentions or reinforce my point. Otherwise, I just don’t bother with ‘em. And as we barrel into Sleepy Town, USA, for this most critical three game set, I say screw the numbers!

Starting tonight, we’ve got a team whose offense has finally found some sort of stride against a division-champions team that has failed to live up to expectations for much of the season, both angling for a spot in the playoffs. We’ve got our three best pitchers lined up against three pitchers who haven’t fared all that badly against us. And we’ve got the knowledge that sweeping the Rays—no matter how outlandish the concept might sound—could render them irrelevant, while being swept, though no doubt high in suck content, would only serve to make the wild card race a bit tighter.

In short, we’ve got a series that promises to be as dramatic and earth-shaking as the 2008 ALCS. And, surprisingly, I’m just not as concerned as the numbers tell me I should be.

The Rays always seem to save their best for us. But we’re coming to Tampa a much different team than we were in early August—a visit that triggered a six-game losing streak. We’ve shored up our defense. We’re getting more hits. We’re looking hungry, and playing like someone finally slapped us upside the head and pointed at the calendar.

Make no mistake: There will be blood. There will be tears. There will be that dumb-ass mascot riding a scooter and cowbells turned up to 11.

But I’m confident we’re gonna turn it on at the Trop. And, if nothing else, that photo above of Jason Bay seamlessly channeling Joe Jackson (“Steppin’ Out,” not Shoeless) should tell you that this guy means business.

Who’s with me?