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▼  4th Inning 2 outs

Christopher L. Gasper

This Red Sox team won’t collapse

Mike Napoli and the Red Sox left Fenway Park on Wednesday with a six-game lead in the AL East.

JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF

Mike Napoli and the Red Sox left Fenway Park on Wednesday with a six-game lead in the AL East.

Lawn chairs are collapsible, ironing boards are collapsible, step-ladders are collapsible. Unlike those items, your 2013 Boston Red Sox are not collapsible.

Stop waiting for the bottom to fall out of this Boston baseball season.

Continue reading below

Maybe the Red Sox don’t win the American League East somehow. But John Farrell’s Fun Bunch would have to go into full-on freefall over their final 21 games to match the ignominy of their 2011 forbearers and miss the playoffs. This team is made of sterner stuff and better starting pitching than that ill-fated squad.

All year long, naysayers around New England have been waiting for the Sox to fall off, believing they were a baseball mirage, clinging to memories — and scars — from the 2011 Red Sox’ historic collapse. It’s OK. Negativity is in our nature. But these Red Sox have had a rebuttal for every questioning of their legitimacy. They’re not faltering down the stretch. They’re sprinting for the finish line.

The Sox took two out of three from the Detroit Tigers in a possible American League Championship Series showdown by virtue of a 20-4 demolition of Detroit Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

If you’re a college student new to the Kenmore Square area and you kept hearing loud bangs don’t be alarmed. That was just the Sox batting and battering the Tigers. The Sox tied the franchise record of eight home runs set July 4, 1977 against the Blue Jays at Fenway and scored a season-high amount of runs.

“Just a rare and outstanding offensive night tonight,” said Farrell, the Red Sox manager.

Boston is now a season-high 27 games over .500, a place the Sox haven’t been since September of 2011.

That year is being held up as the only real legitimate reason to expect the Red Sox’ season to hit a pothole on the way to the playoffs.

But it’s actually a primary reason that history won’t repeat itself. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a member of that club, said that season is in the Sox’ head, as a cautionary tale.

“We’re here to win. We’ve worked so hard for it. Why let it go now?” said Saltalamacchia. “Every win counts. We know that. The guys who were here in 2011 know that. The guys who weren’t here are experiencing Boston and what a great city it is. We can smell it right now, so we’re not going to let it get away from us. Every game matters, if we clinch or we don’t. We’re still going to take every game like it’s a big game.”

Saltalamacchia was asked why people should buy in this time around?

“On paper it doesn’t look like a better team, if you look on paper. But I think the difference is just attitude,” said Saltalamacchia. “It’s the way we deal with things, the way we allow a loss to kind of brush off us and focus on the next one. If we’re down by three runs we’re not going to give up.”

The Red Sox have now won nine of their last 11 heading into what should be a fascinating four-game series with the Yankees.

It will be the first time the ancient enemies have played since Ryan Dempster, who got the win for the Sox Wednesday night, plunked Mr. Due Process, Alex Rodriguez, on “Sunday Night Baseball,” and Yankees manager Joe Girardi responded as if Dempster had burned an American flag. Oh, the humanity of hitting A-Rod.

The Sox are surging, and they’re about to get their ace back. Clay Buchholz, who became a father for the second time Wednesday, is slated to make his final rehabilitation start Thursday in Rochester, pitching in a playoff game for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

It was a fun night in the Fens, as the Sox wrapped up a nine-game homestand and David Ortiz collected his 2,000 career hit. The hits just kept on coming . . . and coming . . . and coming for the Olde Towne Team. This was like slow-pitch softball.

The Sox set up a club record with seven different players going deep. The group included Will Middlebrooks, who hit a grand slam that highlighted an eight-run sixth inning that turned a 5-4 game into a massacre.

The Tigers and Red Sox entered the night ranked first and second, respectively, in runs in the majors. However, both teams’ bats had been soporific in the series. The teams had combined for six runs total and no home runs in the first two games of the series.

Ortiz smashed hit No. 2,000 with a run-scoring double off the base of the center field wall during that sixth inning. He doffed his batting helmet to a hearty ovation from the Fenway Faithful. Career hits No. 1,999 and 2,001 were both home runs for Ortiz, who went 3 for 5 with four runs batted in.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Daniel Nava, Ryan Lavarnway, and Mike Napoli also went deep.

Middlebrooks continued his renaissance after being exiled to Pawtucket. Drew went 2 for 2 with a two-run homer and two walks, justifying the team’s fascination with him and loyalty to him.

In what has become a regular occurrence, Shane Victorino propelled himself into the stands to make a catch and got his uniform dirty on the basepaths, grinding out the go-ahead run to make it 5-4 in the fifth, back when it looked like this might be a close game, not a cakewalk.

“This is a very focused and driven team,” said Farrell. “They’re showing that. At times it’s been initiated and carried by our rotation. Tonight, we had obviously a very good offensive breakout. It’s a very committed group, and one that felt, from the first day of spring training on, they had the chance to do something special. That might be in the process.”

Save the Sox a playoff chair. Just make sure it’s not a folding one.

Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at cgasper@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @cgasper.
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