It may have been Manny Ramirez' first trip to Fenway since he was dealt to the Dodgers, but the story tonight was the Red Sox' offense.
Once maligned as the biggest weakness for this team over the offseason, the bats have quieted any and all doubters. Tonight just reinforced that the Sox have the best O in all the game, as the Sox poured ten runs on the Dodgers to take the first game of the series 10-6.
The scoring got started in a hurry thanks to a couple of longballs off the bats of David Ortiz and J.D. Drew. After an early slump made some wonder if Papi's resurgence was over with the end of May, Ortiz has absolutely punished the ball in Fenway, bringing his June OPS up to .978. Tonight he walked three times after his shot, which was to deep center and over the bullpen.
Felix Doubront, in his first major league start, retired the first six batters he faced before running into trouble in the third. A combination of sketchy defense in center field by Cameron, some hard hit balls, and a bad error covering first of his own cost Doubront three runs and the lead, though only one was earned.
The fifth inning was when the Red Sox really opened up. Dustin Pedroia hit a hard grounder between short and third for a single, and the parade of Sox began. Ortiz walked, Youkilis doubled, McDonald (in for Drew after he came up hurting from snagging a Manny Ramirez liner off his shoetops) singled, Adrian Beltre hit an absolute moonshot from one Knee that ended up well into the lot across the street, Varitek doubled, Cameron singled, and Nava was anti-climatically hit by a pitch before the ninth batter, Scutaro, grounded out to break up the string of eight straight batters reaching. When all was said and done, the Red Sox had put up seven more runs on the Dodgers, giving them a commanding 10-3 lead.
Doubront would be very shaky after the long wait, allowing more baserunners and a pair of runs before being pulled for Scott Atchison with two on and nobody out. What followed was likely the most impressive relief appearance the Sox have had all year. He started by striking out the first two batters he faced and stranding Doubront's baserunners. He punctuated a clean seventh inning by striking out Manny Ramirez. Coming back for the eight inning, he managed another clean frame, finishing out three perfect innings.
Dustin Richardson made things hard in the ninth allowing a homer to bring the Dodgers within four and forcing Terry Francona to go to Daniel Bard with two on and only one out. Bard got Ethier to ground into a fielders choice, and very nearly a double play with his first pitch, and with his seventh got Manny Ramirez—who was held to just one bloop hit in his return—to watch a called strike three slider to seal the ballgame.