BOSTON — The Red Sox are coming!
Judging by last night, the Red Sox appear to have found their place in this 2009 season.
The Red Sox got a shot in the arm, as manager Terry Francona put it, from Daisuke Matsuzaka's unexpected dominance last night — six innings, no runs, three hits, five strikeouts, three walks and "only" 93 pitches thrown in a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Not too bad for someone who was in the doghouse and had pitched in the majors since June 19.
The moons are officially aligned.
Everything is in order.
The starting pitching has allowed four earned runs in this six-game winning streak for a microscopic 0.95 ERA. The Sox have averaged 6.2 runs per game over that stretch. And the bullpen continues to be the strength of the team.
The poor Texas Rangers have pulled a "Tampa Bay" and run out of gas, losing three straight — all at home — by an ugly 20-1 margin. They can't do anything but watch the scoreboard in that Texas heat and wonder what is going on in Boston.
The Rangers outlasted the Tampa Bay Rays and climbed to within two games of the Red Sox in the wild card race on Sept. 9 after winning seven of nine games.
Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and now, quite possibly, Dice-K, have probably ended their hopes.
"We are playing well," said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek. "But it's the pitching. It's been tremendous. It's always the pitching that wins."
As for catching the piping hot New York Yankees, who are now 6 1/2 ahead of the Red Sox, only five in the loss column, it doesn't really matter.
The wild card — a beautiful thing isn't it? — means the Yankees' recent run in September, winning 10 of 15 games, might as well be 15 for 15.
"It's been nice coming home where we are very comfortable," said Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay. "I can't explain it. We just seem to play real well here at Fenway Park."
The comfort is really on the mound. And lately it doesn't matter who it is.
"I don't know who the starter is until I come to the park," said Bay. "That's really how I feel. You know you are going to be in the game."
You know you are going to close out the game, too.
A 2-0 lead in the seventh inning, like the Red Sox had last night, felt more like 8-0, even with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who lead the majors with a team batting average of .286.
"You feel like you have four or five guys out there who are going to get the job done," said Bay. "It's a pretty impressive. It doesn't really matter which guy (Francona) puts out there."
The Red Sox haven't clinched anything just yet. They still have 19 games remaining, including two more against the Angels and three against the Yankees (Sept. 25-27). The remaining 14 games are against the Orioles, Royals, Blue Jays and Indians, teams that are a combined 89 games under .500.
Looking ahead, though, is out of the question. So is worrying.
Just focus on today's starting pitcher, and then the bullpen, and expect the best.
E-mail Bill Burt at email@example.com.