We were trying to choose between this photo and the one of Denton wearing the shirt. This one won.

The last time the Sox faced the Rays this season, they blew us up like the goddam Death Star, plating 24 runs to our 9 and taking all four games of the series. If someone said they also kicked DO in the teeth and shivved Wally the Green Monster, I’da believed it. They came into our house, drank our beer, felt up our women, and gave us the finger on their way out. And I hate when that happens.

Since then, the Sox have driven at a maddeningly mediocre pace. But over the last week, things have started to change. They’ve been showing signs of life. Signs of grit and moxie and determination and unwillingness to gentle into that good night. Just a couple weeks ago, it looked like 2010 could be the lost season. But since the Papelbon meltdown in the Bronx, they’ve gone 5-1. And now the lads are just two and half games behind the Yankees.

So now we’re in Tampa Bay. Facing a Rays team that is rolling at a ridiculous clip, and threatening to run away with the East before we’ve gotten our first proper sunburn. I ain’t having it. We’ve got three big guns set up to face them in Buchholz, Lester and Lackey. We’ve got a David Ortiz who’s been born again hard. We’ve got Ellsbury back where he belongs, Kevin Millar on the mic, and an angry Youk at first. I want all three.

Yes, the superstitious fellow in me says not to jinx it. Says we’ve won the last two games after I openly predicted embarrassing losses. So why mess with success? Because I hate the goddam Rays. And I want us to give them a little of what they gave us in April. Beyond that, if someone wants to step on Joe Madden’s glasses or stash one of Youk’s used jocks in the back of the Rays’ travel bus just for good measure, so be it.