PHILADELPHIA - Terry Francona, anticipating his return to where he was run out of town as a manager, cracked prior to his arrival, "They're probably going to have a parade for me."
But this probably wasn't the type of parade Francona had in mind, the kind with drum majorettes, marching bands, and floats. This looked more like one of those old newsreels from the USSR, when the Red Army used to put its military might on display, tanks and missiles and big guns passing by the reviewing stand.
The red-striped Phillies gave Francona and the Red Sox an eyeful last night, rolling out one big bopper after another in an 8-2 win before a packed house of 45,026 at Citizens Bank Park, the leaders of the National League East drawing first blood in the opener of a three-game series against the team with the best record in the American League.
Jimmy Rollins, the defending NL Most Valuable Player, led off with a home run off Bartolo Colon. Shane Victorino followed with a double, and two batters later, Ryan Howard, the 2006 NL MVP, hit the first of his two home runs. Howard also tripled, as did Pat Burrell, 500 or so pounds of prime Pennsylvania beef lumbering around the bases while Sox outfielders were sent tumbling across the field.
By the time the Phillies broke it open with four runs off an overmatched Mike Timlin in the sixth, the Phillie Phanatic already had captured the essence of the evening in his typical stick-out-your-tongue style, taking a sledgehammer to a Sox helmet right in front of the Boston dugout. It could have been worse; the other night in St. Louis, the Phillies scored 20 runs - for the second time this season.
"They knocked us around a little bit tonight - we knew coming in they could put a lot of runs up," said Francona, whose team answered with consecutive home runs by Dustin Pedroia and J.D. Drew in the fifth off Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels but, even with Manny Ramírez back in the line up, were unable to put any more runs on the board.
The Sox are now 2-2 in this six-game swing through NL parks, and once again, playing by the other guy's rules had its effect on the outcome.
Colon twice came to the plate with two runners on base and twice went down swinging, taking cuts as if he was trying to hit the ball into New Jersey. He swung so hard in the fourth inning at a Hamels changeup that his helmet slid down his nose, which would have been funny except that Colon did not return to the mound in the bottom of the fifth.
Francona said Colon's lower back had stiffened up. "I think I hurt it on that swing where my helmet fell off," Colon said through first-base coach Luis Alicea, who translated.
Colon became the second Sox casualty of the night with back issues. Kevin Youkilis, who was in the original starting lineup, also was scratched with back spasms. He was walking around the clubhouse with ice wrapped around his torso. Both players will be re-evaluated today, Francona said. Colon said he didn't expect to miss a start.
Javier Lopez replaced Colon and struck out Geoff Jenkins after Burrell's two-out triple in the fifth, and with Pedroia and Drew having taken Hamels out of the yard in the top of the inning, the Sox were still very much in the game when Timlin entered to face the bottom of the Phillies order in the sixth.
Francona liked the matchup, Timlin facing two righthanded batters and pitcher Hamels, especially after Timlin had whiffed two in a mopup ninth inning the day before in Cincinnati. If Timlin could make it through the inning, David Aardsma would be summoned to face the lefties in the seventh (a clue, incidentally, that the Sox don't want Hideki Okajima doing any heavy lifting for the time being).
"It didn't work out very well," Francona said.
Timlin walked the first batter, Pedro Feliz, then gave up a single to Carlos Ruiz. Hamels bunted the runners over; Rollins drove them home with his third hit of the night, a line single to center. Another hit and a force play made it 7-2, and Howard's triple knocked home the eighth run.
"His cutter wouldn't cut, and he couldn't get [his sinker] down," catcher Jason Varitek said of Timlin, whose ERA now stands at 7.06. "He just had a tough day."
One that the 42-year-old Timlin wasn't inclined to stick around and talk about, as he slipped out of the clubhouse with his son.
"Their pitcher was very good," Francona said of Hamels, who is now 7-4 with a 3.23 ERA after going seven innings, leaving after walking Drew to start the eighth. "Not a guy you want to fall behind."