X leaves the country, and the Red Sox start playing like the Red Sox. Sure, they're at home against the Reds, who haven't aged well over the last 30 years (what I wouldn't give to hear Joe Morgan spinning one of these games; he might have told us a story or two, or ninety-four, about his playing days and the 1975 Series), but as they say, a win is a win ("and they're not replaced by replacements"). Manny Ramirez continues to show signs of being Manny Ramirez, with 3 HR in as many games. Assuming he can keep up this pace -- and there's really no reason not to -- he will finish the season with 113 homers, which is quite good. Sadly it's not good enough for the new MLB record, as Hee Sop Choi has hit 7 HR in 4 games (including 3 HR in 3 PA against Brad Radke, a feat I got to see from the upper deck of Dodger Stadium) so is likely to finish with around 190.
The big news of the night of course was Wells. Perfect through 3.1, no-hitter through 5.2 (though based on his pitch count, 9 innings looked to be really tough). Based on the blogs, lots of people had pretty much given up on him after his disastrous start on May 18 (against the A's) and mediocre one on May 24 (against the Jays). I can only imagine the EEI callers were vicious. Since then, in 4 starts, against the Yanks, Angels, Cards, and Reds, he's gone 3-0, with a 1.78 ERA, 0.725 WHIP, with 13K to 2BB. In those 4 starts he pitched 30.1 innings, meaning the bullpen only had to pitch 5.2. Pretty tremendous. This is what you want from your number 2 starter. Now, if only our number 1 would come back...
Tonight's game is huge. Not just because the Sox have never swept the Cincinnati Reds (at home, during the regular season, under a waning crescent moon). Not just because the Sox have not won four in a row since May 3-8 (when they won five). Not just because they've haven't been 7 games over .500 since May 22. But because Bronson Arroyo is pitching. He's been seriosuly spotty the last month or so, alternating really good starts with really bad ones. After the drubbing by the Cubs, he's due for a good one.
It's been easy to forget given the two great starts we've gotten from Clement and Wells, but the Reds offense is really, really good. They're second in the AL Central* in runs scored, only 9 behind St. Louis! It's just their pitching is really, really bad -- giving up 370 runs, one hundred more than any other team in their division. Sadly, tonight's opposing pitcher is their good one, Aaron Harang, with a 3.52 ERA and .230 BAA. Should be interesting.
[In fairness, last night's SP, Luke Hudson, was reasonably impressive. Making just his second appearance of the season, he gave up 3ER in 5IP, in Fenway. And that was just one bad inning -- he got through most on just a few pitches. Of his 81 pitches, 51 were for strikes -- it was the walks (3) that killed him, not the hits (4). He was really impressive last year, going 4-2 with an ERA of 2.42 in 9 starts. It'll be interesting to see how his career goes. Unfortunately, he's already 28.]
[late edits: *by "AL Central" I of course meant "entire National League". Easy mistake to make, I know.]