Red Sox Nation rolled into the Great American Ballpark today sans Manny Ramirez (hamstring) and David Ortiz (wrist). The result? A 9-0 thrashing of the young Reds, behind home run power among Coco Crisp, Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew, and Dustin Pedroia.
The Red's biggest question is where in the world Ken Griffey, Jr. heads for the pennant stretch. Griffey, the 38 year-old, injury-riddled outfielder has numbers .246//358/.394/.752 that don't support what is listed as an 8 million dollar plus salary. And a team like the Sox doesn't need veteran leadership, just performance.
For the most part, the Sox held down Red phenom Jay Bruce, other than his Friday night leadoff homer off Justin Masterson. Sox pitching might give clues as to how Bruce's power can get turned into a summer of 4 to 3 (groundouts to second base).
Josh Beckett had better feel on his breaking stuff today, raising his record to 7-4, with seven scoreless innings.
The Sox decision to hold onto Coco Crisp looks better daily, with Manny Ramirez's fallback position to DH, and the Sox benefiting from the superior defensive play of an outfield of Ellsbury, Crisp, and Drew. The latter continues his torrid pace, with three homers, eight runs scored, seven RBI and a 1.462 OPS in the last seven games.
The Sox invade Philly tomorrow, with the Phils carrying the fifth best record in MLB. The Sox have the second best record in MLB behind the (gasp) Chicago Cubs. Coming into today, the Cubs also have the greatest runs scored/prevented differential, just ahead of Philly. What is absolutely shocking is the Angels number three record while allowing more runs than scoring.
Terry Francona gets something of a homecoming with his Philadelphia return. One has to wonder if Philly fans acrimony toward the manager with a pair of World Series pelts has faded. Maybe they'll leave their tar and feathers at home.