The Boston Red Sox are playing their best baseball of the season. They’ve won a season-high five straight games and began the work week tied for a playoff spot.

As we all know, this team didn’t come into the season looking for a wild-card spot. They want to win their fourth consecutive American League East title and punch a ticket beyond a one-game playoff.

Manager Alex Cora certainly feels better about things now than he did after the team’s horrid start. While much of New England panicked, Cora kept an even keel and kept his faith in the team. Heading into this homestand he pointed out how the team was taking on the Seattle Mariners, the very team that took 3 of 4 from Boston to begin the season in March.

“I don’t want to stay the season starts Friday,” Cora said after wrapping up last week’s trip to Baltimore, “but the season starts Friday.”

Of course, it started more than a month earlier. But a restart is exactly what this team needed. With one quarter of the season in the books, it’s a good time to reassess where things stand for the Sox.

Starting pitching: More than anything, the Red Sox turnaround can be traced to a drastic improvement in the starting rotation. Through April 11, Sox starters had posted an 8.79 ERA – the highest in baseball by more than a run.  Since then it’s been 3.19, the fourth lowest in the majors. Red Sox starters have allowed three or fewer earned runs in 24 of their last 28 games.

Hector Velazquez finally gave the Sox a decent start Sunday, holding onto his spot in the rotation while Nathan Eovaldi remains on the injured list. He’ll have to continue pitching well as the Red Sox deal with the loss of David Price. The good news is Price appears ready to return to the rotation shortly, and that the Red Sox have an off day scheduled for Thursday. They won’t need him until the end of the week at the earliest.

This team expected to have one of the best rotations in baseball. For the past month they have. There’s no reason they should revert to the early season problems they showed after their spring training workload was held back.

Bullpen: This was expected to be the team’s biggest weakness coming into the season, but the trio of Matt Barnes, Marcus Walden and Brandon Workman each have an ERA below 2.00.

Cora believed arms would emerge from the relief group assembled in spring training. Walden could be this year’s Ryan Brasier, even as Brasier has had inconsistent results this season. Workman is once again looking like the pitcher who became an important part of the late-game mix in the 2013 championship season, before his career was stalled by Tommy John surgery.

There will probably be more bumps in the road for this group, but it seems like the bullpen is rounding into form. There should be enough options for Cora to get the most out of the group.

Offense: The Red Sox led all of baseball in runs last year, and they are leading the majors in runs this month – scoring 86 runs in 11 games. They’ve hit 24 homers in the last 12 games, and have had seven or more runs in an inning four times this season. They’re scoring in bunches, and hitting for power. It’s a combination that worked well last season.

All in all, the second quarter of the season begins with a much calmer attitude around the team. The same calmness that the team has been showing inside the clubhouse all season.

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