The Boston Red Sox awoke nine games out of first place Monday morning. Even the most die-hard Sox fan would be hard pressed to believe the team will get back into the race this summer.

Yet there were small signs of hope in the past week. The Sox offense has arrived, and suddenly the team has won four of the last six games.

On Sunday, the Sox scored a season-high 13 runs.

Thirteen of their 16 hits were for extra bases – the most by any team in baseball this season. John Farrell retooled the lineup, putting Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot with Dustin Pedroia batting third after Brock Holt. The trio combined for nine hits and seven runs Sunday.

The Sox got homers from cleanup hitter David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez. Xander Bogaerts drove in three runs from the six hole. The heart of the order was finally showing a pulse.

The Red Sox scored 24 runs taking 2 of 3 from the defending AL-champion Royals and have scored 40 runs in the last six games.

Ortiz, Ramirez, and Pablo Sandoval were expected to lead the offense this season. Instead, it’s been others leading the way.

Holt hit for the cycle at Fenway last Tuesday. It was the first time a Boston player hit for the cycle since John Valentin 19 years ago. It was a spark that fans had been looking for through seven straight losses.

Forget the “super utility” label for Holt. He is a starter, hitting .387 over the last 16 games.

His versatility is a great asset, but there is more and more belief that he should find a permanent spot in the field to go along with his regular spot as the No. 2 hitter in the batting order.

Right field, anyone?

Betts is hitting .556 during his current nine-game hitting streak. He ended the weekend as the leadoff hitter, allowing Pedroia to move back into a spot that will allow him to drive in more runs.

Bogaerts is a fixture in the middle of the Boston lineup, and is maturing into a clubhouse leader at the age of 22.

On June 14, after the Sox had stumbled to their sixth consecutive loss amidst a shower of boos at Fenway, Bogaerts stood and faced wave after wave of media long after most team veterans had left the clubhouse.

A year ago, Bogaerts was playing third base as we all wondered what General Manager Ben Cherington was thinking when he brought Stephen Drew back to town. There were questions about Bogaerts’ ability to become a dependable defensive shortstop at the big league level.

No one’s asking those questions now. Bogaerts has improved his footwork impressively, and has been regularly making terrific plays to both his left and his right. And, oh by the way, he’s hitting .292.

Does all of this come too late? The Sox are last in a division that has suddenly gotten hot. Every other AL East team has a winning record.

That’s in large part because those teams have fattened up on playing the Sox, who are 10-21 against divisional foes.

Their next 10 games are against teams in the division. A losing record in this stretch would absolutely bury Boston’s hopes. Even a .500 record wouldn’t be enough. The Sox need to win their series with Baltimore and Tampa before heading to Toronto next Monday to face a Blue Jays team that embarrassed them in a three-game sweep at Fenway June 12-14.

Boston fans have lamented a season that was lost before it started. We’ve been looking for any glimmer of hope. The Sox bats have given us that.

Now, they’re about to enter a stretch where they could bring the season back to life.

Tom Caron is the studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.