BOSTON — As Xander Bogaerts sees it, this Boston Red Sox team is on cruise control.

“The way we’re playing, anyone can come in and do the job,” said Bogaerts, who can’t do the job right now because of an ankle injury.

“There’s a lot of positive energy here. Next guy up.”

Bogaerts is batting .368 with nine RBI. He’s not replaced by one player – although Brock Holt and Tzu-Wei Lin will be filling in at shortstop – but by a team that is on a magical run, on a nine-game winning streak and the best start in franchise history.

No Bogaerts on Tuesday. No problem.

Mookie Betts (grand slam) was the big hitter. But don’t ignore Andrew Benintendi, who had been batting .161 (but with nine walks). Benintendi had two more walks, sandwiched around a two-run triple and a double.

The offense is coming.

“The at-bats, we’ve been more aggressive in the strike zone,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said.

Tuesday’s game was important for a couple of reasons, the first being the teams involved – Red Sox and Yankees.

“The rivalry means so much to so many people, whether in August or April or October,” said new Yankees manager Aaron Boone or, as he was known in 2003, Aaron Bleeping Boone (after his walk-off homer in Game 7 of the ALCS against Boston).

“Much of the treatment I’ve gotten over the years (in Boston) has been good-natured,” Boone said. “Now that I have the uniform on, maybe that changes.”

Cora, who also played in this rivalry, said the matchup is fun, like others he’s been a part of – “Miami-FSU, Dodgers-Giants … Astros-Rangers?” But he downplayed it.

“We understand they play in our division,” Cora said. “We have the same goal – to win the series; same goal we had against the Rays and the Marlins.”

But that’s the value of playing the Yankees. Tampa Bay and Miami are among baseball’s bottom-feeders. As impressive as Boston’s 8-1 start was, it came with a disclaimer because of who the Red Sox played.

The Yankees entered as the preseason favorites to win the American League East, especially after the trade for Giancarlo Stanton, a slugger who would bat between bashers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

But the mighty Stanton is struggling mightily. He came into the game with 20 strikeouts in his first 10 games, and a .167 average.

“I want him to get jump-started because I know what a difference-maker he is,” Boone said.

Jump-start? Against Chris Sale on a 38-degree night? Good luck with that.

In his first two at-bats, Sale threw seven pitches, all fastballs, all for strikes. Stanton whiffed both times. He singled in the fifth and doubled in the eighth (off Brian Johnson), which has the Yankees hopeful.

“It’s a timing issue,” Boone said. “As soon as he gets that feeling and strings a couple of good at-bats together, look out.”

Boston’s high-priced slugger, J.D. Martinez, has been not tearing it up, yet – although his two-run double was encouraging. The Red Sox are showing a deep lineup, even without Bogaerts.

New York’s lineup is ailing. Greg Bird (ankle) might be back next month and Aaron Hicks (oblique) could be here by Thursday. Brandon Drury (blurred vision) is out indefinitely and, of course, Jacoby Ellsbury (hip) remains on the DL.

Bogaerts, who has a “small crack” in an ankle bone, could be back in two weeks. He wore a protective boot on Sunday (when he was hurt) and Monday, but did not need it Tuesday.

“I am a little bit (in pain) walking-wise,” Bogaerts said. “It’s getting better, so that’s a huge plus.”

Everything is positive in Boston right now.

Cora could even joke about a goof he made in Sunday’s dramatic comeback win over the Rays. When the Red Sox took the lead with a six-run eighth inning, Cora meant to make a defensive substitution for Martinez in left for the ninth, but forgot.

“Honestly, we score six runs and we were so excited, the manager missed that one,” Cora said.

He laughed. The Red Sox are 9-1. It’s all good.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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