You soak in a game like the Red Sox' put up against the Angels. And then you check in on the American League East standings.
Then you check the calendar.
Will everything we see the rest of the way resemble the Red Sox' 9-0 win over the Angels Saturday? Of course not. Could this division suddenly be separated in a manner that currently isn't the case, with only one team more than three games in back of the first-place Sox? Sure.
But as we sit here on mid-May, storming our way to Memorial Day, what can be defined is the feeling given off to this point.
This is sure giving off the vibe of a great pennant race, with the Red Sox entrenched in the conversation all the way until October.
Red Sox vs. Yankees, with a little Blue Jays and Rays mixed in. What's better?
In order to actually surmise this is going to be a thing one would have to first start believing in what the Red Sox are presenting. At this point -- thanks mainly to a starting pitching staff that entered the season lathered up in question marks -- it's hard not to believe this somewhat-flawed roster can't be as good or not better than an American League full of somwhat-flawed rosters.
Perhaps it was Martin Perez's outing against the Angels that pushed more people to the bandwagon. Six innings. No runs. An ERA that sits at 3.40.
In case you missed it, Perez has become the pitcher the Red Sox were banking on him becoming. In his last four starts he owns a 1.61 ERA, .220 opponent average against, and 1.12 WHIP. For what it's worth, he also leads the majors in strikeouts looking (24).
These other teams have their version of Perez, guys who they had hoped would find another gear despite some uncertainty. Corey Kluber has been good for the Yankees. Robbie Ray likewise for the Blue Jays. And Rich Hill has been on fire for Tampa Bay.
But for the Red Sox, getting this sort of payoff was the be-all, end-all. They needed the evolution from three pitchers -- Perez, Garrett Richards and Nick Pivetta. The Sox' record with those three pitching this season is currently 15-9. That will do.
As for the rest of the participants in this pennant race ...
It's exhausting fending off the overreaction and immediate panic that comes with players overperforming, underperforming and everything in between. Friday, we were screaming for more Michael Chavis. The next day he struck out in three of his four at-bats. The Bobby Dalbec roller coaster now has taken us to a place where the first baseman is hitting .360 with a 1.247 OPS and three home runs over his last seven games. Franchy Cordero just notched two doubles!
All of these teams in this thing are living with the same sort of dynamic, trying to figure out what exactly they are while riding the coattails of their foundations.
For the Red Sox, it's no secret. The likes of Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers will be their fail-safe. It's not a bad one to have.
The Yankees have theirs. As do the Jays. The Rays? To be honest, sometimes it's hard to figure out how they win, but they just do.