Boston Red Sox

Jul 5, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) celebrates his two run home run hit against the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

At the conclusion of a holiday weekend, the scores are now coming in like election returns, most precincts reporting.

The Red Sox won again Monday night, 5-4, over the Los Angeles Angels. The season is more than half over, the All-Star break is approaching, and the Red Sox are rolling with such momentum that even manager Alex Cora has recalibrated.

Here’s what Cora said on The Baseball Hour podcast (at roughly the 35:30 mark) back on March 23, when asked what we should expect in 2021: “I’m not going to tell you here, like in ’18, that it’s World Series or bust.”

And here’s what he said roughly a week ago when asked what the current expectations are for his team: “Our expectations are to win the World Series.”

If that sounds like Cora is gloating, he isn’t. But what he is admitting is that things have crystallized for the 2021 Red Sox, who lead the American League East by 4 1/2 games entering the final five games of the first half. Against all odds, the Red Sox have the second-best record in baseball and are on pace for 102 victories.

How did this happen?

Let us count the ways.

MORE: Three More Red Sox Make All-Star Team

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.