NEW YORK -- For a while, it just became part of the narrative. The Red Sox were going to finish in last place for the third time in the last four seasons -- a stinging inevitability even if the one exception was a World Series championship.
The Red Sox have changed their own story by playing their best baseball of the season down the stretch, continuing with Tuesday's 10-4 thumping of the Yankees.
It isn't enough to reverse the disappointing start, as Boston was officially eliminated from the postseason on Monday night, hours after they had already left the ballpark.
But it is enough to create enthusiasm heading into the offseason. The Red Sox are now in third place -- not fifth. They've won a season-high five games in a row. And if they can win four of their last five games, they will finish at .500, which seemed next to impossible even a couple of weeks back.
"I would love that," said catcher Blake Swihart, who clubbed two homers on Tuesday. "The last couple weeks, that's something that we've been talking about. We want to get there. That's like our little goal we have."
More than the record is the energy and execution the club is playing with as it builds towards 2016.
"It's something we're very proud of," said interim manager Torey Lovullo. "We're not shutting down, we're not backing out of situations. We're finishing games and doing what we're supposed to do, playing the way the Boston Red Sox are supposed to play baseball. We're all very, very proud of that. It's just been a really good run."
When the Red Sox arrived to work on Aug. 18, they had a 52-66 record. Since that date, they are 25-14.
And maybe it's no coincidence that Aug. 18 is also the day Dave Dombrowski took over as president of baseball operations. While Dombrowski's roster makeover won't come until the offseason, there's certainly motivation for players to try to prove they should be part of the club going forward.
"We all want to establish ourselves," said Swihart. "We've got something to prove. We all want to go out there and represent the Red Sox the right way and play the game the right way."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.