Subtract your best hitter, and get a 10 times more potent offense!
So far, that seems to be what's happened. It's not so much that they've replaced Manny (though Youkilis is currently doing his damndest) as that they've all been able to focus, finally. Not anything cheesy like the Sox pulling together as a united team now (although that may also be happening) - just something as simple as everyone finding themselves with more peace and quiet and space to concentrate since the soap opera shipped off to LA.
And ship off it did - Manny's late return from the clubhouse for the ninth inning the other night did not escape me. Nor did the Dred Affair of Aught Eight. Then there''s the obnoxious, unnecessary "I'm going to play for the Yankees" comments. I still don't remember Manny acting this constantly awful before this year. There have been elements of this in the past, but something has changed.
But that's also probably why, in a month kicked off by an actual winning road trip, there are moments it looks like things have really changed for the Sox, too. How many wins has limp-noodle offense cost Josh Beckett this year? And yet, at this point, according to Extra Innings, the last time we saw a series of games like this was when the 2003 "Cowboy Up" squad Squished the Fish. (If that's not enough, check these stats.)
Though the Red Sox gave up half of a sizable lead again, they came out on top in another track meet, basically because the only part of the Sox pitching staff that utterly sucks right now is the bullpen*. The starters have actually been pretty solid, especially Jon Lester**. Texas, on the other hand, has end-to-end sucky pitching to complement its league-leading offense. That kind of matchup is bound to result in games like these.
The pitching decrepitude of Texas, not to mention our own bullpen continuing to be a indescribable pit of suck, or the injury bug continuing to gnaw away at the roster, does take some of the thunder out of these victories. But they are therapeutic nonetheless.
*I know the runs were credited to Lester. But it was Mike Timlin with inherited runners. I mean, come on.