BOSTON — Someone hoisted a baby during the scoreboard dance-off and the Fenway crowd exploded. "Baby! Baby!" they chanted. When the DJ played Mr. Brightside by The Killers in the sixth inning, the entire crowd sang along, nailing every lyric. In the Red Sox dugout, postseason-ineligible infielder Jose Iglesias hugged anyone who entered his airspace, a grinning cyclone of isn't-this-amazing energy.
Stop me if you heard this recently, but a giant party broke out at Fenway Park on Monday night, and the only people not having the time of their lives were the Houston Astros.
Two grand slams on Saturday weren't enough for you? Then Kyle Schwarber added another, a majestic second-inning Schwarbomb that sent the crowd into a frenzy resembling one of those crazy raves in a Matrix sequel.
Need another pitcher to believe in not named Nathan Eovaldi? Say hello to Eduardo Rodriguez, whose every start from here on out could be his last in a Red Sox uniform. Mr. Inconsistent is suddenly rediscovering his 19-win form of 2019, and not a moment too soon. He delivered six outstanding innings. Six! Starters can still do that!
This one was over so early, manager Alex Cora started emptying his bench in the seventh inning. He gave postseason monster Kiké Hernández a rest, but not before he recorded two more hits; perhaps the Astros could take solace in keeping him in the park.
The cheering, the dancing, the laughing, the freaking baby -- it might've lasted all night, except the Red Sox need to get on with the business of dispatching the Astros and preparing to visit either Atlanta or Los Angeles for the most unexpected World Series appearance in the history of this storied franchise.
And let's just dispense with any other possibility. The Red Sox are going to the World Series. And the way they're playing now, let the Braves and Dodgers combine rosters because the Sox just might win it anyway.
On Monday they obliterated the Astros behind another offensive barrage that included their third grand slam in two games -- a record for a single postseason series -- as well as home runs from Christian Arroyo, J.D. Martinez, and Rafael Devers, who seems blessed with two good arms again.
By the end of the 12-3 throttling, the capacity crowd had collectively shared in enough joy to power the Pru for a month.
It's OK if you didn't see this coming. No one did. Alex Cora's most illuminating answer of the postseason came the day before Game 1 of the ALCS in response to a simple question: "When did you realize this team could win a World Series?"
Caught slightly off guard, Cora effectively admitted the thought had only struck him recently. No shame in that. We're all right there with him.
"You know what, I woke up today and I was like, 'We're four games away from the World Series,'" he said last Wednesday. "We win four games and we're right there."
That number is now down to two, and it just feels meant to be. The Astros have absolutely no pitching. Zack Greinke will be lucky to last an inning in Game 4, and their best remaining pitcher at this point might be me.
So bring your babies. Learn all the words to some more early-2000s alt-rock. Share a hug with Jose Iglesias. The Red Sox have already closed out two series at Fenway, and they've got their sights set on two more.
They're on the doorstep. The World Series calls.